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This research was made possible only through the collaboration of 
many individuals and organizations. Undoubtedly some will be left out in 
this recognition. My apologies to those people. So many people have 
extended a helping hand during various stages of this project, that to name 
them all would be impossible. First and foremost, I extend my heartfelt 
appreciation to the women workers in the garment industry (both those who 
worked in the factory and those who worked in the home). These women 
took hours out of an otherwise incredibly busy day to talk to a curious 
"gringa" who spoke a broken Spanish. These interviews (conversations) 
provide the basis for the analysis presented here. 

In Pereira, Risaralda, the local branch of the National Industrialists 
Association, ANDI, provided letters of introduction for the large factories. 
The association of medium and small producers, ACOPI, provided office 
space as well as introduction to the meduim and small scale enterprise 
owners. The social workers of the government's vocational school, SENA 
assisted in finding home based workers and provided me access to the 
garment classes offered through this government institution. In Pereira, 
German and Marta Lucia Marin and Ricardo and Consuelo Gomez opened 
their homes to a relative stranger, providing a family environment in which 
I worked and lived for 8 months. Stella Brandt, sociologist of the 
Technological University of Pereira, and the women of the Casa de la Mujer, 
provided invaluable support and encouragement as feminists concerned with 


the condition of women workers in the city. Flor Maria Gonzalez and her 
sister Gloria completed many of the factory worker interviews. 

In Bogota, Elssy Bonilla provided invaluable institutional support at 
the Universidad de los Andes. She and Magdalena Leon read the initial draft 
of the survey and assisted me in better understanding the Colombian reality. 
The women of the Grupo de la Mujer y Sociedad at the National University 
provided a forum for discussion of feminism in Colombia which greatly 
enriched my experience there. The Fulbright Foundation provided economic 
and logistical support throughout the entire process. I wish to thank the 
entire staff, particularly Dr. Augustin Lombano and Consuelo Valdivieso, of 
the Fulbright Commission office in Bogota for their financial and personal 

Adelia Romero opened her home to me in Bogota, and her families 
generosity facilitated my entry into Colombian society. In Colombia I was 
fortunate to have the support of friends and North American researchers: 
Ann Hornsby, Nancy Nelson, Rich Stoller, and Gary Long. Throughout 6 
years of friendship, fellow anthropologist Julian Arturo has provided 
stimulating debates on Colombian events and deepened my understanding of 
the region tremendously. 

My colleagues in the anthropology department and the Center for Latin 
American Studies at the University of Florida have provided support and an 
arena for intellectual debate helping me to relate the ivory tower concepts of 
anthropological theory to the experience of fieldwork and data interpretation. 
In particular. Gay Biery-Hamilton, Avecita Chicchon, Florencia Pena, and 
Vance Geiger read and commented on initial drafts of the dissertation. Gay's 
wonderful sense of humor helped maintain my sanity throughout the 
graduate school experience. Lois Stanford provided invaluable support 


through many late night long distance discussions. Augusto Gomez also read 
and commented on several chapters of the dissertation. His knowledge of 
Colombia strengthed the history chapter considerably, and his friendship and 
support at crucial moments helped keep the dissertation process in proper 
perspective. Chris Canaday's comments on the statistical analysis and his 
assistance with the maps are greatly appreciated. Gary Shaeff also assisted 
with the maps. Debbie Dow Marshal and Clara Sotelo, provided significant 
words of encouragement during various stages of the process. Pamela Starr, 
Susan Parker, and Donna Wills Green provided long distance support during 
late night conversations throughout many years of friendship. Maria Roof 
has been an inspiration to me since my undergraduate days, and I thank her 
tremendously for her support and the example she provided for women at 
Allegheny College in Meadville, PA. 

I also wish to thank my dissertation committee who patiently read and 
critiqued various chapters of the dissertation at different stages of the process. 
Although any errors in the final production are my own, the insightful 
comments of both Dr. Helen Safa, committee chair, and Dr. Marianne 
Schmink who critiqued each chapter on numerous occasions, were extremely 
helpful along the way. Dr. David Bushnell also read the entire document 
several times. His comments, editorial and substantive, were very useful. 
Dr. Paul Doughty and Dr. Anthony OHver-Smith also provided significant 
words of wisdom throughout the process. 




Finally, I am grateful to my family (including Betty Richardson, who is 
like family), whose encouragement throughout my graduate studies has 
supported me in this lengthy process. My mother, especially, through her 
example, has taught me the value of perserverance in difficult tasks; without 
her support, economic and otherwise, this dissertation would not have been 







Introduction I 

Methodology 7 

Survey Methodology 9 

Qualitative Data 14 




Introduction 16 

The Household as Mediator of Women's Labor Force Incorporation 18 

Family or Household 20 

Female-headed Households 22 

Women's Labor Force Incorporation 23 

Women's Labor Force Incorporation and the Development of 

Industrial Capitalism 26 

Changes in the Social Relations of Production 29 

Monopoly Capital and Women's Labor Force Incorporation 31 

The New International Division of Labor 33 

The Informal Sector 37 

Subcontracted Industrial Outwork 39 

Industrial Outwork and Capitalist Development 39 

Conclusion 41 


Introduction 43 

Development of the Manufacturing Industry in Colombia 49 

Women's Contribution to Industrial Development 52 

From Import Substitution to the Promotion of Exports 54 

Temporary Employment 58 

Textile Production 60 


Export Promotion and Industrial Development 62 

Antioqueno Colonization of Old Caldas and the Subsequent 

Development of Pereira as a producer of consumer goods 64 

Agricultural Development 64 

Industrial Development 68 

Regional Development 72 

Regional Manufacturing Industry 74 

Contemporary Colombian Development 76 

Conclusion 79 




Introduction 81 

The Subcontracting Relationship 82 

The Subcontracting Relationship in Risaralda 83 

Subcontracting as Articulation Between Formal and Informal 

Sectors 87 

Intermediaries as Agents of Articulation 89 

Levels of Subcontracting 94 

Subcontracting and Subordination in the Garment Industry 95 

Access and Control of Markets 97 

Access and Control of Raw Materials 98 

Relationships within the Subcontracted Enterprise 99 

Conclusion 103 



Introduction 105 

Material Relations of Production within the Factory 106 

Working Conditions of Women 108 

Mechanisms of Control in the Factory 110 

Forms of Resistance within the Garment Industry and Factory N 115 

Changes in Organization of Production in Factory N 119 

Conclusion 120 




Introduction 122 

Domestic Cycle 126 

Life Cycle Variables of Women I33 

Household Variables I37 

Conclusions I49 




Introduction 152 

Household Authority Patterns 154 

Workplace 154 

Home ownership 155 

Access and Control of Budget 158 

Culture and the Household 163 

Conclusions 168 



Research Findings 171 

Theoretical Contributions of this Study 173 

Prospects for the Colombian Case 176 


Interview with Workers 179 


Questionnairre for personnel managers (In Spanish) 188 


Spouse Employment 191 

Appendix D 194 

Household Ethnographies 194 




Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School 

of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the 

Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy 



Kathleen Gladden 
May 1991 

Chairman: Dr. Helen Safa 

Major Department: Anthropology 

This study of one sector of the urban labor force describes women's role 
in social reproduction of the working class in the garment industry. 
Women's labor force incorporation is considered as one aspect of the broader 
struggle by households to ensure their social reproduction. Based on 110 
interviews with home-based and factory workers, the research analyzes the 
impact of factors such as the domestic cycle of the household and the life cycle 
of the women on their participation in the labor force. 

Women's domestic responsibilities and social relationships in the 
household limit her options in the labor market. This study found that 
women with additional household responsibilities (especially wives and 
mothers) were more likely to participate in home-based production. 
However, female heads of household were more frequently found in the 
factory where they can command higher salaries. Further, differences in 


household composition led to different social relationships which were 
correlated with different authority patterns within the household. 

At the workplace level this research demonstrated how informal 
methods of contracting labor are increasing due largely to growing 
international competition which requires cheaper labor to produce less costly 
goods. Recent restructuring of production in the garment industry in 
Colombia is a significant mechanism, incorporating home-based workers and 
small and medium sized factories into the process of production in the 
garment industry. This increasing informality of contracts affects not only 
subcontracted industrial outwork but also labor relationships within the 
factory (especially the factory with solely domestic capital) making them less 
stable. This increasing informalization of the labor market and utilization of 
subcontracting leads to increasing subordination of women's position in the 
labor market. 

The research concludes that the restructuring of production at both the 
national and international level, while increasing employment options for 
women, reinforces their subordinate position in the labor force. The fact that 
women are now major economic providers for the household demonstrates 
the increasing vulnerability of these units. Since women traditionally have 
been relegated to the most precarious economic positions, it is no surprise 
that they continue to represent a vulnerable and exploited labor force. As 
women's economic contributions to the household rises at the same time as 
factory wages are falling, the possibilities for social reproduction of the 
working class become more difficult. The households are "hanging by a 
thread," a slender thread frequently provided by the salary of the women 




Pienso que de pronto que 
explotaban las condiciones de 
la mujer. Porque son mas 
responsables. Hay mas 
permanencia de las mujeres en 
los puestos de trabajo por la 
necessidad. . . 

Dona Constancia, trabajadora 
social del SENA en Pereira 

I think that, just maybe they 
exploited the conditions of the 
women.-.Because they are more 
responsible.. .There are more 
women who stay in jobs because 
of need. . . 

Dona Constancia, Social 
Worker in SENA in Pereira 

This research analyzes the relationship between the organization of 
gender roles in the household and women's labor force incorporation, in order 
to explore the impact of industrial restructuring in one industrial sector (the 
garment industry) on social reproduction. This study considers the impact of 
internal forces of the household and external forces of the labor market on 
women's labor force participation in an intermediate sized industrializing city 
in Colombia, South America. The supply of workers cannot be analyzed 
completely separate from the demand for workers. Economic pressures on the 
household result from a variety of factors including macro-economic factors 
such as the current economic crisis inflation, high unemployment and regional 

processes of industrialization, as well as micro-economic factors such as the 
structure and domestic cycle of the household. Household responsibilities 
considerably constrain women's labor force incorporation. This analysis of the 
interaction between the household and the labor market considers 1) the 
impact of household structure and composition on (a) the availability of female 
labor (Chapter 6), and (b) new patterns of household authority resulting from 
women's sources of income (Chapter 7), 2) the impact of factory recruitment 
strategies on women's labor force incorporation, and 3) the impact of changes 
in the structure of production, due to both regional and national political and 
economic pressures on women's labor force incorporation and the composition 
and structure of the workers' households. 

The term internal forces of the household refers to material and 
ideological pressures generated within the household due to changes in the 
structure and composition of this unit during the domestic cycle. In other 
words, as time passes, the socio-demographic changes occuring within the 
household produced by the birth, migration, and death of its members, lead to 
changes in their material and ideological conditions (Orlandina de Oliveira, 
Lehalleru and Salles 1989). For example, growing numbers of dependent 
family members lead to increasing economic pressure on the household's 
income generating capacity. Migration can increase or decrease the economic 
pressure on the household depending on whether the one who migrates is an 
income generator or not. If the individual who migrates contributed 
substantially to the household income, their migration (if they do not send 
remittances) increases economic pressure on the household for other 
individuals to increase their income generation to fulfill the household's 
needs. Changing material conditions lead to restructuring social relationships 
in the household, which may, in turn, lead to changed ideologies. However, 

these changes are not direct and mechanical. Changes in social relationships 
within the household reflect new patterns of decision making and the 
assumption of different authority relationships within the household. 
Women, whether married, widowed, divorced, or separated are often forced to 
assume the role of primary income generator. These changes may lead to the 
women's assuming more authority in the household decision making. 

Changing material and ideological conditions of the household strongly 
influence the way in which women are able to generate an income through 
their labor force participation, whether as wage laborers, or subcontracted 
industrial outworkers^. Social relationships within the household (such as 
those between the husband and the wife, the father and the daughter, the 
mother and the grandmother) structure home-based production. For example, 
the number of people available to assist in home-based production dictates to a 
large extent, the amount of work which can be performed. The work which is 
performed in the household, further, also alters the relations themselves. 
When women begin to work in the household, other members may assume 
the domestic tasks previously performed by these women. This research 
hypothesizes that women household heads are less constrained by traditional 
ideological beliefs of the home as women's primary responsibility as compared 
to women who were spouses. In addition, wives are under less pressure 
(economically) to provide an additional income for the household. 

Women's labor force incorporation is further conditioned by the 
demand for laborers as expressed in recruitment strategies of factories and the 
changing structure of production within the industry. Since June of 1989 the 

^Subcontracted industrial outworkers refers to home-based workers whose 
work depends on contracts with larger industrial enterprises (the details of 
these contractual relationships will be discussed in depth in chapter 4). 

managers of the multinational garment factory studied in this research 
expressed the policy practice of hiring only women under 25 years of age with a 
junior high education, preferably single with no children. Obviously these 
requirements limit the women who will be hired for work in this factory. This 
recruitment strategy was not expressed by the domestic factories, only those 
with mixed (national and international) capital. 

In Colombia both the political and the economic situation have 
encouraged the development of small micro-enterprises subcontracted to the 
larger factories. In 1984 the government of Betancout introduced a National 
Plan of Microenterprises in order to increase production and generate 
employment. This plan was revised in 1988 to assist small-scale enterprises 
with minimal technological capacity to grow and generate more employment. 
Political conditions such as the National Plan of Microenterprises fostered 
changes in the structure of production by facilitating the initiation of new 
small-scale enterprises. Increasing the number of small-scale enterprises 
available for subcontracted outwork provided the larger capitalist enterprises 
with skilled home-based producers looking for a market in which to sell their 
garments. These changes influenced women's labor force incorporation, 
augmenting the prevalence of subcontracting in the garment industry. 

The description of home-based workers and factory workers presented in 
this research compares and contrast variables such as household structure and 
composition, the women's work history (i.e. when do women enter wage labor 
production, when do they leave this wage labor production to work in the 
home), and personal history (i.e. age at marriage or first union, her age at birth 
of first child, etc.). This study hypothesizes that the manner in which women 
are incorporated into the labor force (1) weakens organized labor through 
fragmentation of the labor process, (2) restructures production to the benefit of 

the large industrialists within the garment industry, (3) increases the 
penetration of international capital into an intermediate industrializing 

In order to unravel the complex relationships between women's 
household and workplace activities, this research considers factors at the level 
of the household, the workplace, and the regional and international economy. 
The factors at the household level include 1) household responsibilities such as 
child care, cooking, and cleaning, which constrain women's labor force 
incorporation (both in the factory and home-based situations); 2) the 
relationships of industrial outworkers (once the wide variety of their situation 
has been described) to the factories; 3) the middlemen and their effect on the 
working conditions of these women; 4) the effect of women's labor force 
incorporation on the structure and composition of workers' households (both 
subcontracted industrial outworkers and home-based workers); and 5) 
renegotiation of gender relations in the home based on new income sources 
including the sexual division of labor and authority patterns. 

At the workplace level the following aspects are considered 1) the 
organization of production in the factory; 2) changes in the structure of 
production, specifically subcontracting, as they affect women's labor force 
participation; 3) the new emphasis on exportation in the garment industry in 
this region in the last few years as it affects women's incorporation into the 
workforce; and 4) the mechanisms used by management to control women's 
labor in the factory setting. 

These factors provide the framework for exploring the following 
research hypothesis: (1) women's domestic responsibilities limit her 
participation in the labor force. Therefore women with additional household 
responsibilities (especially mothers and wives) are more likely to participate in 

home-based production than single women; (2) economic pressures on female 
headed households leads these women to assume positions in the factory, and 
(3) male-and female headed households differ in household composition and 
household survival strategies, which in turn lead to different patterns of 
decision making and authority in the household. 

At the workplace level, it is hypothesized that (1) informal methods of 
contracting labor in the factory are increasing due to the increasing 
competitiveness of the international market, leading to a search for even 
cheaper labor, and (2) the emphasis on diversification of exports has been 
accompanied by an increased production of garments, and increased 
competition in the garment industry. 

This chapter provides a discussion of the methodological tools (both 
quantitative and qualitative) utilized in the study. Chapter Two discusses the 
theoretical framework, including an analysis of the relationship between 
industrialization and women's work, the productive and reproductive 
responsibilities of women, and the changes occurring in the structure of 
production and women's labor force incorporation with industrial 
development in Latin America. Chapter Three discusses the history of 
industrialization in Colombia, focusing on the research sites of Pereira and Dos 
Quebradas (Dos Quebradas is the industrializing region to the north of the city) 
in the department of Risaralda. Chapter Four describes the organization of 
work within the factory, highlighting changes occurring in the relations of 
production within the factory including mechanisms of control utilized by 
management. Next, Chapter Five describes the structure of the labor force and 
subcontracting mechanisms operating within the garment industry. Chapter 
Six provides a more in depth analysis of the domestic cycle of the households 
of female workers. Chapter Seven relates the domestic cycle analysis to 

authority patterns in the household. The conclusion. Chapter Eight, details 
how industrial restructuring affects the structure and composition of 
households, and the strategies assumed by women in the households to assure 
the reproduction of these units. 


The investigative process utilized included both quantitative (such as 
the design, implementation and analysis of a survey questionnaire, and the 
analysis of census data including data on manufacturing production) and 
qualitative research methodologies (such as key informant interviews, both 
structured and unstructured, participant observation, and historical archival 

I completed the study in several stages. The first stage involved 
development and refinement of the research survey which had been devised 
after a 3-month study in the textile city of Medellin, Colombia in 1986. During 
this stage, census data was consulted in order to determine the most 
appropriate city for a study of the garment industry. Experts in the area were 
also consulted for their comments on the study and the survey instrument. 
In order to address the social construction and reproduction of gender 
hierarchies, the questionnaire implemented analyzes the influence of family 
cycles on women's patterns of wage labor; what resources household members 
exchange; the difference between pre- and postmarital occupational histories; 
and current insertion into homework and wage labor. 

Stage two of the study involved travel to Pereira, and pre-testing of the 
survey instrument there (see Figures 1.2 and 1.3). During this stage. 

government officials, local leaders, university professors and union organizers 
were consulted to deterniine the appropriateness of the survey and the study 
site. Other data on the neighborhoods in the region, the urbanization of 
different cities in the department, and statistics on the production and 
exportation of garments was also gathered in determining the history of the 
garment industry in the region. 

The first part of the third phase of the study involved interviewing the 
factory owners, choosing the factories that would be included in the study, and 
acquiring lists of workers for the interviews. The second part of this phase of 
the study involved choosing the assistants, training them, and implementing 
the survey instrument with factory workers. With the assistance of workers of 
the Servicio Educacional Nacional de Aprendizaje (SENA, as will be described 
in detail later), homeworkers were contacted. By December, 1988 the 
interviews with 75 factory workers from two different factories had been 
finished, and reviewed. A preliminary summary of the study was presented in 
Pereira in November, 1988. A preliminary analysis of the data was presented to 
the Fulbright Foundation in January of 1989. 

The fourth phase of the study was initiated on my return to the site in 
February 1989. During this time I finished coding the interviews which had 
been completed with factory workers, and continued working with one 
interviewer. Through her we located some additional homeworkers and 
found additional factory workers who had not been on the original lists from 
the factory. In-depth interviews with these workers were completed during 
February and March. In March and April I worked with SENA officials 
interviewing home-based workers. In total, 120 worker interviews were 
completed. Excluding the 10 pre-test interviews, 110 interviews are utilized in 
this analysis: 35 interviews were completed with home-based workers, and 75 

interviews with factory workers (40 from the multinational factory, 35 from the 
national factory). During this time, I also participated in a seminar sponsored 
by the local unions and was able to interview the leader of the only garment 
factory union in the department. In March and April I worked with a women's 
savings and loan cooperative. Although these women were generally not 
factory workers, they were very active in the community, and helpful in 
locating other home-based garment workers. 

Survey Methodology 

The city of Pereira in Colombia was chosen as the site of research due to 
the predominance of garment production in the region. The study utilized a 
number of techniques. The interview was the principal method of collecting 
information about the home-based workers and the factory workers (see 
Appendix A for a copy of the survey utilized with factory workers and home- 
based workers). The goal of this interview was two-fold: in addition to 
describing the structure and composition of these workers' households 
(emphasizing income generating strategies), a description of the personal and 
work histories of these women factory workers was obtained. This was done in 
order to determine the role of the domestic environment and cycle of the 
household in women's labor force incorporation. The survey instrument was 
revised and discussed after a month of research by sociologists and 
anthropologists in Bogota. The interview was revised one more time after 
consultation with other professors and professionals in Pereira, and a third 
time after conducting ten trial interviews in that city. The initial sample list of 
workers was chosen (every tenth name in the list of workers) by the personnel 


manager of the large export factory. This Hst, however, was expanded utiHzing 
the snowball nnethod to discover other workers. 

The interview schedule addressed concerns of the women workers 
(determined, as previously mentioned by pre-tests of the survey with the 
women workers, discussions with community workers in Pereira, and 
university professors familiar with the sociology of the region). The interview 
described and analyzed the women's material conditions, (including factors 
such as limited access to resources, lower wages, etc) and their ideological 
constructs (such as household authority patterns) in part through an 
exploration of the social relationships (such as marriage and the birth of 
children) which constrain or facilitate women's incorporation into the labor 
force. Studying women's labor force participation in the home as well as in 
the factory in a single industrial activity delineates factors which constrain 
women's labor force participation. 

In order to avoid a narrow focus on the household and factors affecting 
the supply of women workers, the structure of the labor market, and 
preferential hiring practices of the larger factories were incorporated into the 
methodology through interviews with the factory owners. These interviews 
explored factors which influence the demand for women workers and further 
constrain women's incorporation into the labor force. One aspect of demand 
for women's labor in Colombia is the governmental policy encouraging the 
development of small-scale enterprises (first implemented in 1984, and revised 
in 1988). The impact that this policy has on structuring women's labor force 
incorporation (wage-labor, as well as home-based) will be analyzed using 
information from these interviews. 

This interview schedule for the factory owners was modified in Bogota 
and then again in Pereira (see Appendix B). In total 40 owners were 


interviewed. It was applied to all owners of small, medium and large sized 
garment factories in Pereira and Dos Quebradas (the industrializing region to \ 

the north of the city; administratively Dos Quebradas is part of the municipal i 

area of Pereira) who agreed to participate in the study. The goal of this 
interview was to determine the composition of the work force in these 
factories, outline the chain of subcontracting in the city, and uncover 
recruitment strategies of the factories. 

The sample of factories was chosen through the assistance of two groups. 
The major contact with the owners of the large factories was ANDI (The 
National Association of Industrialists) while the contact with small 
organizations was ACOPI (the Colombian Association of Popular Industries). 
A representative of each of seven large garment factories in Pereira and Dos 
Quebradas was interviewed, and representatives of 80% of those factories 
registered with ACOPI participated in the study. Some factories which 
participated in the production process through subcontracting, but did not 
appear in the list of ANDI nor in ACOPI, were discovered. In other words, 
during the interview with owners of factories from ANDI or ACOPI, factories 
would be mentioned as those which were subcontracted to or from which 
material was received, who did not appear in the original lists. The managers 
of these factories were then approached for interviews. 

After the initial interviews with the managers of the seven large 
factories, two were chosen for more in-depth studies, in order to compare the 
production process and women's labor force incorporation, between export- 
oriented factories with mixed capital and those which were oriented towards 
the domestic market. The largest export factory in the region was chosen 
because of its predominance in industrial production in the region. The other 
factory chosen for the study was one which did not export, but rather produced 


for the domestic market. The owners of these factories collaborated in 
suggesting the names of workers for the interviews. (Although it is possible 
that this collaboration introduced some bias into the sample, it was impossible 
to interview the workers without the permission of the managers. However, 
where possible, the social network method was used to uncover friends of 
these workers, and individuals who had been fired from the factory were 
sought out for additional information on working conditions in the factories.) 

The sample of domestic outworkers was chosen by asking the larger 
factories to indicate who produced for them (small-scale enterprises, or home- 
based workers). When the factories did not submit workers' names, a social 
network of the home-based workers known by workers in other factories was 
utilized. This method involved asking the workers if they knew other women 
who worked sewing in their homes. In this way, twenty subcontracted 
industrial outworkers were found. Also, the SENA (National Vocational 
Training School) assisted in the location of home-based workers and small- 
scale garment entrepreneurs. The SENA conducts courses in sewing skills 
geared to particular factories, as well as providing courses in how to start up a 
small enterprise in garments, including courses in design, cutting, and 
marketing. This governmental institution also serves as a placement agency 
for these workers and small-scale enterprises. The woman responsible for 
organizing the classes for small-scale enterprises allowed me to accompany her 
on her home visits. I was also permitted to attend classes in SENA and 
interview participants outside of class hours. I actually took garment classes for 
a week (to learn the basic stitches and procedures taught in the introductory 
courses). I attempted to work in a factory, but this was impossible for insurance 
reasons (according to the personnel managers). Apparently because of the 


pressure on the workers, there was a high incidence of work-related injuries in 
this factory. 

Three women, graduates of the local university in social sciences, were 
contracted to assist in the interviews after finishing with the trial interviews. 
These assistants were helpful in finding women who worked in the garment 
industry in Pereira and Dos Quebradas. They completed two 3-hr sessions of 
training to ensure their understanding of the interview technique. The 
interviews with the workers in general, lasted from 1 to 1.5 hours. The 
assistants were initially paid $2.00 an interview; however one interviewer who 
was exceptionally good and assisted in more depth with other aspects of the 
analysis was later re-hired at the rate of $3.00 an hour. The assistants completed 
50 interviews with the workers in the two larger factories. I completed the trial 
interviews with the workers (about 15), some interviews with factory workers 
(20), interviews with the owners of the factories (41) and the domestic 
outworkers (35). The final sample consisted of 40 workers of one export factory, 
35 operators of one factory producing for the domestic market and 35 domestic 

Other quantified information, including data from the manufacturing 
census, and the household census of 1977, 1980 and 1987 was utilized in 
determining the social structure of the region. Initially this data was used to 
determine the site of study (i.e. an area where the production of garments was 
predominant). Later, this information was used to complement the analysis of 
labor force participation in the areas of Pereira and Dos Quebradas. 


Qualitative Data 

Primary sources of qualitative information included interviews with 
garment workers and key informants such as local leaders of credit unions, 
women's organizations, civic societies, labor organizations, and professors in 
the university. Follow-up unstructured interviews with 3 women workers 
provided more in-depth information on women's insertion into the labor 
force, exploring their work and family history in more depth than the initial 
survey interviews. Newspaper articles of the two major local papers (El Diario 
del Otun, and La Tarde) were consulted from their initiation in the 1940s till 
1989. For this process, two assistants from the National University in Bogota 
were hired to help review the papers (only from 1980's on) and collect articles 
on garment production and industrialization in the area of Pereira and Dos 

Secondary sources for qualitative information include books on regional 
development of the 'Old Caldas' region, several student theses from the 
Technological University in Pereira, and data from the National Planning 

Perhaps the most difficult part of the research was gathering information 
through interviews. In Colombia, individuals do not grant interviews if they 
have nothing to gain. The identity of the person who makes the interview 
contact for the researcher was very important. I was fortunate to have been 
introduced to the director of the ANDI (Associacion National de Industrias)in 
Pereira. She later provided me with a letter of introduction for the large 
factory owners in the region. An introduction by a University of Florida 


alumnus provided me with contacts to ACOPI (Asociacion Colombiana de 
Populares Industrias) for medium and small factories. This organization 
further assisted me in Pereira, providing me with a telephone and office space. 

In establishing relationships with homeworkers, building trust was the 
key to successful interviews. Because the interviews intruded into the settings 
of the women workers and their families, it was important for me to 
reciprocate their attention towards me with offers of my time, assistance, 
friendship, or a listening ear for their problems. The initial strategy was to 
walk in the barrios, spend time getting to know the children, and then ask if 
their mothers worked in the home. However, even after getting to know the 
children, the mothers were suspicious of my activities, and few were willing to 
grant me an interview. It was only after meeting people in a government office 
which provided training in sewing and garment production for women 
(SENA) that I was able to make inroads into the production in the home. The 
SENA had a program for the development of small-scale enterprises, and also a 
project for assisting women who worked in their homes. SENA personnel 
allowed me to travel with them on their home visits, and I was able to get to 
know the women, home-based workers and small-scale entrepreneurs in a 
more personal way. With the introduction of the SENA worker, the women 
trusted me more, and we were able to talk about their work in a more favorable 

The following chapter considers the theoretical significance of 
women's labor force incorporation. Women's labor force participation is 
considered as part of a strategy of industrial capital to incorporate more 
vulnerable labor, through restructuring and fragmentation of the production 




Conoci a mi esposo en Top 10, Yo 
trabaje como fileteadora, y el 
cortaba la tela. . 
Lucia, operaria de confecciofl 

I met my husband in the 
garment factory Top 10, 1 was 
working as a fileteadora 
(finishing edges), and he 
worked cutting the cloth. 
Lucia, factory worker 

This chapter begins with an analysis of the impact of industrialization 
on the sexual division of labor (both in the household and in the workplace). 
Essential to this analysis is a discussion of women's labor, considering 
productive and reproductive responsibilities which occur in both the 
workplace and the home. Because women's labor force participation is 
conditioned by their household responsibilities, women cannot be considered 
only as workers, but must also be considered as daughters, wives, sisters, 
aunts or mothers. Domestic responsibilities often limit women's possibilities 
for employment in the 'formal sector', concentrating them in the unregulated 
or 'informal' sector of the economy (Redclift and Mingione 1985). Women's 
labor force participation is considered as part of a strategy of industrial 



capitalists to incorporate more vulnerable labor, through restructuring and 
fragmentation of the production process. 

The discussion follows with an analysis of informal sector expansion^. 
The new international division of labor is considered as a mechanism leading 
to increasing fragmentation of the production process, augmenting 'informal 
sector' production. Home-based workers (considered part of the 'informal 
sector' in this research) are 'cheaper' than factory workers; not only are their 
salaries lower, but they require little or no investment in infrastrucure or 
social benefits. In order to understand the mechanisms which create, modify 
and reproduce this 'informalization' a comparison of industrial outwork 
occuring during the transition to capitalism in eighteenth century Europe is 
made with that of capitalist development in contemporary Latin America. 
The introduction of large scale factory production and its impact on social 
relations in the household are considered. The conclusion discusses the 
significance of the expansion of the informal sector and increasing 

^Many scholars criticize the term informal sector. While its value as a 
descriptive measure is often conceded, its usefulness as an analytical category 
is fiercely debated. Researchers argue that the informality observed in the 
economy is actually a very functional part of the formal sector. However, 
according to scholars such as Fortes and Sassen-Koob, the profound economic 
crisis of the industrialized capitalist countries (since the mid 1970's) led to the 
development of new mechanisms to adjust for the lack of demand for 
products, and avoid substantial reductions in industrial profits. These 
strategies assumed by capitalists include transferring plants to countries 
where costs would be reduced, robotization of the factory (industrial 
conversion), experiments to increase workers productivity, and 
informalization (Fortes 1983). In this case, informalization is a strategy 
utilized by capitalists to assure their flexibility and adaptation and minimize 
their costs. In this research, the term informal sector must be understood as a 
dynamic concept, as part of the global process of restructuring production, 
facilitating the competition of national and multi-national factories in the 
international market. 


fragmentation of the labor force for women's labor force incorporation and 
the reproduction of the working class household. 

The Household as Mediator of Women's Labor Force Incorporation 

An analysis of women's labor force incorporation (be it in the factory or 
industrial subcontracting) must include social relations of production as well 
as social relations of reproduction (both of the domestic unit and the 
workplace). Social relations of production in this study refer to the economic 
ownership of productive forces (land, labor, and capital in strict marxist 
terms). In other words, while the factory worker only owns her/his labor 
power, the industrialist owns the machinery and the raw material required 
for production. These conditions may differ in the case of small scale 
producers, as will be seen in the discussion of subcontracting in chapter four. 
Social relations of reproduction in this research emphasize two levels of 
reproduction: the daily (and the generational) and the biological. The daily 
level of reproduction includes cooking, child care, washing, cleaning, and 
maintaining the household which over time leads to the reproduction of a 
generation of workers (Harris and Young 1981). Women's reproductive labor 
(involving activities such as giving birth to children, cooking, cleaning, and 
childcare) influence women's incorporation into the wage labor force. Both 
productive and reproductive functions of the household change over time (as 
children grow, enter school, leave school and enter the work force). An 
analysis of the household and its internal dynamics is essential for 
understanding the influence of the domestic environment on women's labor 
force participation. For this reason, when analyzing women's labor force 


incorporation, this research considers both women's factory based productive 
activities, as well as her household responsibilities. 

Lamphere (1987) demonstrates the interrelationship between the two 
spheres in the following quote: 

Production entails reproduction, and there are elements of both 
productive labor and reproductive labor in the factory and in the 
household. When women are tending spinning frames or 
looms, they are producing a product (cloth) but their labor is set 
in a system of social relations in which they sell their labor for a 
wage and work for someone who owns the machinery and the 
factory they work in. . . Yet there are also elements of 
reproduction in the factory or textile mill. The means of 
production must be reproduced or replaced, that is, the 
machinery needs to be repaired, the buildings refurbished... the 
social relations of production, the divisions between owners, 
managers, and workers, need to be reproduced through the 
continuous replacement of individuals in these categories and 
through the socialization of workers and managers to their jobs, 
including an acceptance of the system as legitimate (Lamphere 
1987 p. 18) 

However, the terms production and reproduction must not be used as 
synonyms for household and workplace. They are rather analytic concepts 
which describe relationships and changes which occur in either place. 

There are ways in which "production:" finds its way into the 
home, even though most productive work does not take place 
there under either industrial or monopoly capitalism. First, the 
organization and scheduling of work impinge on and determine 
the family's schedule for eating, sleeping, and leisure time. 
Second, the wages paid to adult male workers determine 
whether other members of the family will work for wages in 
order to provide subsistence for the household. . .Third... their 
participation in the labor force may necessitate the reallocation 
of reproductive labor within the home. (Lamphere 1987, 18). 

As Lamphere demonstrates, the relationship between productive and 
reproductive tasks is complex and dynamic. Household activities involved 
in the daily reproduction of the labor force generally occur alongside activities 


oriented towards market production. Since reproductive tasks of the 
household are considered women's responsibilities, women's labor force 
participation is more dramatically affected by reproductive responsibilities 
than men's. Domestic labor which has traditionally been the women's 
responsibility constrains women's participation in market oriented 
production. Therefore women's responsibilities for reproductive activities 
determine in large part her possible productive activities. These tasks inhibit 
or constrain women, especially middle aged married women, from selling 
their labor in the market. Because the labor of these women is consumed 
within the household, these workers have more difficulty working outside of 
the home. 

Family or Household 

Before proceeding with an analysis of changes occurring in the 
household during capitalist development, the concepts "family" and 
"household" must be clearly defined. The term "household" refers to a co- 
resident group of persons who share most aspects of consumption, drawing 
on and allocating a common pool of resources (including labor) to ensure 
their material reproduction (Margulis 1980, Schmink 1984, Yanagisako 1979, 
Jelin 1977, Harris 1981). Households are not necessarily based on kin 
relationships, though a family and a household may in some cases be 
equivalent. "Family" then refers to an institution based on kin relationships 
governed by established socio-cultural practices. These individuals do not 
necessarily share a common residence or commonly pool their resources. 


Historical works document variations in household and family- 
composition through time (Aries 1973; Arizpe 1977; Stolcke 1981). The 
structure and composition of households also varies with the life-stages and 
socio-economic income generating strategies of its members. The impact of 
life cycle (elaborated in more detail in chapter six) on women's production 
and reproductive responsibilities illustrates that life cycle is a major factor in 
labor recruitment policies and strongly affects who is hired for particular jobs. 
For example, as this research will demonstrate, daughters are preferred by the 
multi-national factories. They are more flexible in their work hours (i.e. 
more available for unscheduled overtime), and less likely to miss work 
because of family problems. In addition, life cycle affects the way in which 
women regard their earnings and the contributions they make toward the 
household economy (Safa 1990). This case will be discussed in more detail in 
chapter seven. 

The impact of industrialization on families and households can be 
seen in changing household strategies for income generation. The household 
organizes labor for productive as well as reproductive tasks. For example, as 
the ratio of workers to consumers changes over time, the income generating 
activities of the women also change. It is hypothesized that ideological and 
time constraints assigning domestic responsibilities to women, pull them 
back into the home when other household members (especially children) 
assume their income generating activities. As a result, both the composition 
and the structure of households have a direct impact on women's lives, on 
their labor for both market oriented and industrial outworking activities, and 
in particular on their ability to gain access to resources, to labor and to 


However, the household cannot be conceived of as existing in 
isolation, but rather is embedded in a specific socio-economic class in a 
community within a certain geographical region. All these factors affect 
women's access to and control of resources. Extra-household kin 
relationships are also important in regulating women's access to and control 
of resources. In the case of garment workers in Risaralda, kinship networks 
are important in obtaining work and machinery for women to perform work 
in the home (to be discussed in relation to the garment workers in more 
detail in chapter five). 

Female-headed Households 

The concept of the female-headed household is growing in importance. 
According to the household headship reported by the women workers, 
approximately 30% (35/110), were female headed. However, when women's 
position within the household was analyzed, over 50 percent of the workers 
interviewed classified as female household heads, considering the major 
economic provider as household head (the difference between reported 
household headship and headship considering economic contribution to the 
budget will be further analyzed in chapter 6). In the case of Risaralda, 
Colombia, it appears that rapid industrialization based largely on women's 
labor force participation has led to a high degree of female-headed households 
in the urban areas. 

International data reviewed on the socioeconomics of women 
heads of household suggest a direct linkage between processes of 
modernization ~ particularly those stemming from economic 
development and its policies ~ and the rise of households 
headed by women. . . Most studies suggest that explanatory 


factors for female family headship should be sought in both 
internal and international migration; mechanization of 
agriculture; the development of agribusiness; urbanization; 
overpopulation; lower class marginality, and the emergence of a 
class system of wage labor — all of which are integral 
parts /consequences of rapid economic transformation. (Buvinic 
and Youseff 1978 p.iii, italics mine.) 

Female household heads may be women who are widowed, separated, 

abandoned, divorced, or single mothers. In Colombia many women were 

separated from a legal marriage, but few were divorced^. Low wages and high 

male unemployment contribute to preferences for non-legalized unions as 

opposed to marriage and to precipitating the break-up of such unions 

(Buvinic and Youseff 1978). Often female heads of households are part of 

consensual unions which have dissolved. This research frequently found 

that women considered themselves "single" after ending a consensual union 

which had resulted in children. However, to understand the impact that the 

demand for workers has on women's labor force incorporation, we must now 

consider how industry pressures households to develop new survival 

strategies and to devise new patterns of labor allocation. 

Women's Labor Force Incorporation 

Industrialization has changed the structure of Latin American societies. 
As women become increasingly incorporated into the labor force, the 
structure and composition of households is transformed. In Colombia, 
women provide labor for the development of both national and international 
industries. Keremitsis (1984) documents how women's labor fueled the 
development of the textile industry in Mexico and Colombia. As machinery 

^Because of Colombia's close tie to the Catholic Church <Colombia is the only 
country in Latin America which still has a signed convenio with the Vatican 
in Rome>, divorce is difficult. 


modernized jobs in the textile mills, women laborers were channeled into 
other directions such as the "informal" labor market (Keremitsis 1984). Since 
the first textile industries began in the Antioqueno region of Colombia in the 
early part of this century women's labor has spurred the process of capitalist 

Women have always constituted a source of cheap labor for industrial 
capitalism (Saffioti 1978), however, the way in which women are 
incorporated into the labor force is not homogeneous. Their incorporation 
into the labor force differs according to a number of variables including their 
ethnicity, class and the stage of national development of the country (Safa 
1977). The characteristics of women workers also differ regionally within the 
same country. In Pereira, Risaralda, as will be demonstrated in chapter three, 
the significance of the garment industry in regional development leads to a 
labor market structure in which female participation in manufacturing 
industry is higher than it may be in other regions of the country^. 

One of the first scholars to provide a comparative analysis of women's 
work based on data from a wide range of societies. Ester Boserup, emphasizes 
gender as a significant factor in the division of labor. Boserup (1970) analyzes 
factors affecting the sexual division of labor in agriculture. Her comparison of 
male and female systems of farming corresponds to the African system of 
shifting agriculture and the Asian system of plow cultivation. She was one of 
the first theoreticians to emphasize that women's subsistence activities are 

3in 1985 of 26,031 individuals employed in the manufacturing industry in 
Risaralda, 30 percent were employed in garment production. Of 11,453 
women who worked in the manufacturing industry in the region, 4,394 were 
women associated with garment production (approximately 40 percent). Sixty 
six percent of the total work force in garments are women. Of 14,578 men 
who worked in the manufacturing industry, only 16 percent worked in 
garment production, the majority as mechanics and supervisors. 

usually omitted in statistics of production and income (1970:163). In addition, 
Boserup's comparative analysis projected the different sexual division of 
labor encountered in farming systems onto patterns of women's participation 
in non-agricultural activities. Boserup's work has been criticized, however, 
for neglecting the concept of reproduction (Beneria and Sen 1981). Although 
Boserup discusses technological changes introduced with commercial 
agriculture, her modernization perspective leads to the conclusion that this 
change is generally beneficial to society, if not to women. The assumption 
that modernization is generally a neutral process, ignores the fact that it 
generates and intensifies inequalities, making use of existing gender and class 
hierarchies to subordinate women and men (both within the household and 
within the workplace). Boserup's analysis focuses solely on women's 
productive role, neglecting the effect of reproduction on the sexual division 
of labor. 

In order to understand the theoretical importance of women's labor 
force incorporation, the historical moments when this labor force 
participation increase, and /or changes its form, must be considered. 
Women's incorporation into the industrial labor force generally occurred 
during early periods of industrialization (as in Europe, with England being 
the classical case); during times of economic and/or political crisis (as in the 
United States during the Second World War); in situations where extreme 
competition forces industry to minimize operation costs, and/or 
restructuring of the labor process (such as the increase in clerical workers in 
the United States in the 1970s, and more recently the restructuring of 
manufacturing), and when production remains labor intensive (as in the case 
of the garment industry). The next section considers women's labor force 


incorporation and the development of industrial capitalism as it occurred in 
eighteenth century England. 

Women's Labor Force Incorporation and the Development of Industrial 

Prior to the onset of industrialization, manufacturing and agriculture 
were performed on a much smaller scale in the home in feudalistic Europe. 
The home was the physical location of the reproduction of daily life, as well 
as production for the market. Under these conditions, a division of labor 
developed within the home or workshop. In the textile industry, for 
example, women spun thread, while men frequently wove cloth. 

As industrialization developed, productive activities were broken 
down into a series of tasks. The different functions were arranged 
hierarchically depending on factors such as knowledge of the process, 
strength, and manual abilities. As production became increasingly technified 
and modernized, machines began to perform the labor of workers, and 
production moved out of the home. Under industrial capitalism, initially the 
location of production shifted from the household to the factory. The factory 
replaced the household as the center of productive activity because it was 
better suited to the technified production of larger machinery. Under this 
arrangement, a new division of labor emerged in which the worker became 
merely an appendage of the machinery. 

Along with the tool, the skill of the workman (sic) in 
handling it passes over to the machine . . .Thereby the technical 
foundation on which is based the division of labor in 
manufacture is swept away. Hence, in the place of the hierarchy 
of speciaHzed workmen (sic) that characteristics manufacture, 
there steps, in the automatic factory, a tendency to equalize and 
reduce to one and the same level every kind of work that has to 


be done by the minders of the machines; in the place of the 
artificially produced differentiations of the detail workmen, step 
natural differences of age and sex. (Marx 1967, p. 420). 

Initially industrialization tended to substitute unskilled labor for 
skilled, female labor for male, young labor for mature (Marx 1967). 

In so far as machinery dispenses with muscular power, it 
becomes a means of employing laborers of slight muscular 
strength, and those whose bodily development is incomplete, 
but whole limbs are all the more supple. The labor of women 
and children was, therefore, the first thing sought for by 
capitalist who used machinery. That mighty substitute for 
labour and laborers was forthwith changed into a means for 
increasing the number of wage-laborers by enrolling,under the 
direct sway of capital, every member of the workman's family, 
without distinction of age or sex (p.394). 

Early theoreticians of women's work generally viewed this labor force 

incorporation as liberating (Marx 1967; Engels 1972): 

Since large-scale industry has transferred the woman from 
the house to the labor market and the factory and makes her, 
often enough, the bread-winner of the family, the last remnants 
of male domination in the proletarian home have lost all 
foundation (Engels 1968, p. 508). 

Vogel criticized the notion of separation of reproduction from other 
productive relations, arguing that although Engels conceptualized the family 
as a significant analytical category, he failed to specify how the family 
functioned within the overall process of social reproduction. Vogel (1983) 
also critiqued this interpretation of women's labor force incorporation as 
liberating. On the one hand, women's labor force incorporation provides an 
income for these women which may permit them to exercise more power in 
the household (as is explored later in this text). However, the reproductive 

28 I 

responsibilities of women in the household (the biological, daily, and i 

generational) continue, especially for women who are mothers and wives. 

Therefore, she argued, labor force incorporation is not "liberating" for 


With the development of the factory system, women whose primary 
responsibility was the household, became dependent on the husband for their 
income. The household was no longer the unit of production, rather 
individuals within the household (particularly men) became responsible for 
the income of the entire household. Both push and pull factors affected 
women's income generating activities. When factories needed "cheaper" 
workers, women were pulled into factory employment, often in positions 
subordinate to men. The significance of the male's primary role as 
breadwinner, subordinated the role of women workers (and their salaries) 
legitimizing management's perception of the women workers as "cheaper". 
In the lower income brackets, the depressed income of male wage earners 
necessitates the employment of women. The low household income pushes 
women into the labor force in these sectors. However, in all cases, these 
women in the wage labor force were not only income generators, but often 
also housewives and mothers. Participation in factory labor did not reduce 
their household responsibilities. 

Women's labor force incorporation under industrial development 
may therefore be described as contradictory (Lim 1983). Benefits derived from 
income generated by the women who leave the home to work necessitate 
increasing the women's work load unless other family members assume the 
household responsibilities. Industrial development further fragmented the 
production process into a hierarchy of tasks. This increasing technification 
often led to the replacement of women for men in the labor force. 


disadvantaging women and leading to changes in the social relations of 
production. These changes will be discussed in the next section. 

Changes in the Social Relations of Production 

The gradual displacement of cottage production based in the home 
with industrial development in eighteenth century England, resulted in the 
incorporation of young, single daughters of farm families into factory work; 
often these were women who stopped working as soon as they were able to 
marry (Fernandez-Kelly 1983). Under these conditions, women's Hves were 
divided into a paid productive phase and an unpaid reproductive phase in 
which their activities were for the most part directed towards the renewal of 
the labor force as purely housewives and mothers (Safa 1987). 

Braverman (1974) demonstrates how, on the one hand, fragmentation 
in the labor process degrades labor, breaking down and simplifying tasks 
which permit the use of less skilled labor in one or more parts of the tasks 
wrestling control out of the hands of the worker. On the other hand, this 
leads to increased production for industrialists, cheapening the cost of labor, 
and therefore increasing profits, as well as increasing control by management 
over the labor process. 

The centralization of work in the factory permitted industrialists to 
determine the process of production: what would be produced, the rate at 
which it would be produced, how many of certain articles would be produced, 
and when they would be produced. Workers lost control of the article they 
were producing which not only made them more vulnerable to capital, but 
also increasingly alienated them from their work. 


The success of work organization in the factory in the United States 
and European industrial contexts resulted in part from changes in the control 
of the work process: workers' control over the production process in the 
household was replaced by management's control in the factory. The 
intensification of task specialization under monopoly capitalism increases 
management's control over the work process (Baran and Sweezy 1966). In 
Colombia, this research demonstrate a similiar process. Factory workers 
perform only one part of the production process - one seam, one pleat, one 
sleeve, cuff, etc. In addition to fragmenting the production of different 
articles, the workers were also moved from one workshop to another. In 
other words, when one workshop completed an order of women's dresses, a 
worker would be moved to a workshop of men's shirts (if she was lucky 
enough to have her her contract renewed). The fragmentation of production 
is furthered by the increasing informalization of work in the factory. 
Workers are hired only for the production of specific garments. . 

The assembly line production and the organization of the large-scale 
enterprises at the turn of the century in Europe was organized specifically to 
increase control and profits for capital (Baran and Sweezy 1966). Contrary to 
the idea that specialization increases the skills needed by each worker so that 
they may be more knowledgeable and in greater control of the production 
process, in a society based on the purchase and sale of labor power, dividing 
the craft actually cheapens the cost of labor for producing the individual parts. 
In this way, subcontracting part of the work further divides the labor (outside 
the factory setting whereas the assembly line divides it within the factory 
setting), once again cheapening the labor costs involved in producing the 


Monopol y Capital and Women's Labor Force Incorporation 

During the latter half of the twentieth century a substantially different 
structure of industrialization has emerged. Baran and Sweezy (1966) elaborate 
on this new stage of development called monopoly capitalism. While 
monopoly capitalism decreases the need for workers in certain sectors of the 
labor force, it creates demands for workers in new production branches. 
Under the stage of monopoly capital, big businesses use all available methods 
- organizational and technological to decrease their risks and losses (Sokoloff 
1980). Under monopoly capitalism there is a systematic tendency for surplus 
to increase dramatically (Baran and Sweezy 1966). By controlling prices 
among the few major corporations in a field, the large companies maximize 
their profits more efficiently. Management increases its control over the 
production process (including decisions regarding production and sale of 
commodities such as the type, price, quantity and quality of products.) 
However, control over markets and increased control over production by 
large corporations are not the only new elements of monopoly capitalism. 
Monopoly capitalism also leads to new forms of social organization. 

With the rise of monopolies, new forms of social 
organization began to appear. The expanding commodity 
market of products and services effected a historic break in the 
relationship between women and industry. It is possible that 
monopoly capital was more decisive for the lives of most 
working-class women than the rise of capitalism itself. The need 
for controlled markets demanded a mobilization of all social 
resources for potential profit (Blaxandall, Ewen and Gordon 


According to Edwards, Reich, and Gordon (1980), the development of 
monoply capitahsm in the United States divided the working class: 

The central thrust of the new strategies (to divide and 
conquer workers) was to break down the increasingly unified 
worker interests that grew out of both the proletarianization of 
work and the concentration of workers in urban areas. As 
exhibited in several aspects of these large firms operations, this 
effort aimed to divide the labor force into various segments so 
that the actual experiences of workers would be different and the 
basis of their common opposition to capitalists would be 
undermined (p. xiii). 

Theoreticians concerned with the impact of monopoly capitalism on 

women's labor force incorporation argue that the creation of large amounts of 

surplus value under monopoly capitalism led to the creation of new 

industries which employed primarily women. Among these new industries 

was the development of the service sector which led to increasing 

incorporation of women into the labor force. However, women were not 

only increasingly employed in the service industries under monopoly 

capitalism, but also in the industrial sector. In certain aspects of this sector 

(especially the garment industry), unskilled tasks continued to dominate 

production, and women's labor force incorporation increased. 

While women generally are increasingly incorporated into the labor 

force during the twentieth century in low waged and unskilled tasks, some 

women are being pushed out with the development of more capital intensive 

techniques of production. While monopoly capitalism has pulled women 

increasingly into the labor force, new levels of technological development 

organized to maximize profits and the accumulation of surplus have 

contradictory consequences for women's labor (Sokoloff 1980, p. 91). Some of 

these contradictory consequences can be seen in more detail in the analysis of 


the new international division of labor. The new international division of 
labor represents yet another phase of monopoly capitals increasing control 
over the production process. No longer bound by national sovereignty, these 
entities continue to nnaximize profit generation by reorganizing the 
production process on a global level. 

The New International Division of Labor 

The new international division of labor refers to the restructuring of 
production on a global scale. Traditionally the international division of 
labor consisted in the exportation of raw materials by Third World countries 
to more industrialized countries where they were processed and marketed. 
These "Third World" countries then bought manufactured goods from the 
"First World" at a much higher price. The next phase, import substitution 
industrialization was promoted by the Economic Council on Latin America 
in the 1960s. Import substitution industrialization encouraged the 
domestic production of goods formerly imported. As Safa (1990) notes, in 
many Latin American countries this industrialization was financed by 
dividends earned from agricultural production or by foreign capital. In the 
past decade, the policy of import substitution industrialization has been 
replaced by one of export promotion. This represents a new stage in the 
international division of labor, and therefore the name, the New 
International Division of Labor. 

. . . Export manufacturing represents a new stage in the 
international division of labor in which developing countries in 
Latin America and the Caribbean are becoming exporters of 
manufacturing goods to advanced industrial countries.. .Contrary 
to import substitution, the new trend seems to encourage 
foreign investment by minimizing the importance of national 


boundaries and allowing market mechanisnns to operate 
without constraint. Import substitution required the 
development of an internal market, which had to be supported 
through the extension of domestic purchasing power to the 
middle and working classes. In export manufacturing, however, 
the market is entirely external. It demands the maximum 
reduction of production costs, principally wages, in order to 
compete effectively on the international level (Safa 1990a, p. 2). 

The new international division of labor fosters women's employment 
(because they are "cheaper") by multinational corporations (Nash and 
Fernandez-Kelly 1985). This employment generates contradiction by 
providing economic opportunities for these women (Lim 1983) while also 
intensifying and reinforcing their subordinate position in society through 
the way in which they are incorporated into the labor process (Elson and 
Pearson 1981, Ward 1990). 

From plants in the Third World, multinational 
subsidiaries export manufactures to their home countries. From 
their home countries they import capital and technology in 
exchange. Cheap labor, combined in many cases with 
government subsidized capital costs, including tax holidays and 
low interest loans from government banks give these countries a 
comparative advantage in world trade in labor intensive 

It is labor intensive industries, then, that tend to relocate 
manufacturing plants to developing countries, thereby becoming 
multinational in their operations. This is a rational competitive 
response to changing international comparative cost advantages 
(Lim 1983: 72). 

An example of women's labor force incorporation in order for 
industries to minimize operation costs can be seen in the relatively recent 
expansion of export processing zones, and the development of factories which 
perform only assembly operations. This offshore manufacturing represents a 
new strategy of capital investments which is linked to a reorganization of the 


international division of labor (Frobel, Heinrichs, Kreye 1979; Nash and 
Fernandez-Kelly 1983). 

Offshore manufacturing enables the transfer of labor intensive aspects 
of the productive process to peripheral areas, with the incorporation of large 
numbers of women into direct manufacturing activities in these areas (Nash 
and Fernandez-Kelly 1983; Safa 1982). Historically the first example of this 
offshore production occurred in Puerto Rico during the 1950's in Operation 
Bootstrap (Safa 1974). More recent examples of this can be seen in Asian 
countries (Lim 1983; Mies 1988; Sen 1980), the Mexican-American border 
(Fernandez-Kelly 1985) and off-shore production characteristic of the 
Caribbean (Safa 1981). These industries demonstrate a preference for young, 
single, women who are perceived as cheaper and more docile than men. 

The so-called "feminization of the labor force" results, in large part, 
from an emphasis on labor flexibility in both developing and industrialized 
economies (Standing 1989). Not only are women being substituted for men, 
but men's jobs are also being transformed into low wage, unstable 
employment, typical of traditional women's jobs. Standing (1989) traces this 
"feminization of labor" to the global economic situation beginning in the late 
1970's. The rise in low income countries' participation as manufacturing 
exporters, increasingly rapid rates of lending, increased technological 
innovation, and more intense international competition reinforced the 
supply side ideology focusing on market mechanisms and cost 
competitiveness as key determinants of economic development. Increased 
trade liberalization and export promotion policies result from this emphasis. 
Therefore, in order to increase profits, governments are removing labor 
market regulations, eroding union strength, and increasing the use of 
temporary, part time, and subcontracted workers. Colombia is no exception. 


These policies further reduce worker's (both men's and women's) possibiHties 
for skilled employment and income securities. The following quote 
demonstrates this trend: 

At the same time, industrial enterprises have been 
introducing modern technologies that have been associated with 
changing skill and job structures. The debate over the de- 
skilling or upgrading effects of modern technology is 
unresolved, but the evidence seems to support two pertinent 
trends. The use of craft skills learned via apprentices and 
prolonged on-the-job learning have declined; such crafts have 
traditionally been dominated by male "labor aristocracies." 
Second, there is a trend toward skill polarization, consisting of 
an elite of technically skilled, high status specialist workers 
possessing higher level institutional qualifications, coupled with 
a larger mass of technically semiskilled production and 
subsidiary workers requiring minor training typically imparted 
through short term courses of a few weeks or even by on the job 
learning. (Standing 1989, p.938 ) 

Lim (1983) states that third world women workers are the most heavily 

exploited group of workers in the world, both relative to their output 

contribution and relative to other groups. Although all experience capitalist 

exploitation, third world women workers are additionally subject to what she 

terms "imperialist exploitation" and "patriarchal exploitation". 

Imperialist exploitation - the differential in wages paid to workers 
in developed and developing countries for the same work and 
output - arises from the ability of multinationals to take 
advantage of different labor market conditions in different parts 
of the world - a perfectly rational practice in the context of world 
capitalism. In the developing countries, high unemployment, 
poor bargaining power vis-a-vis the foreign investor, lack of 
worker organization and representation and even the repression 
of workers' movements, all combine to depress wage levels, 
while the lack of industrial experience, ignorance and naivete of 
workers with respect to the labor practice in modern factory 
employment enable multinational employers to extract higher 
output from them in certain unskilled operations. 


Patriarchal exploitation-the differential in wages paid to 
male and female workers for similar work and output-derives 
from women's inferior position in the labor market . . .(Lim 1983- 

In the context of the current international economic and political 
situation in the late 1980's, Latin American countries (including Colombia) 
must reorganize their economies in response to increasing international 
financial problems. Reduced reliance on salaried workers earning fixed wages 
and fringe benefits enables factories to cut production costs in order to meet 
international competition. Increased reliance on 'cheaper' sources of labor 
such as women working at home, and reduction in factory wages increase 
international competitiveness. As noted above, these economic problems 
have resulted in a shift from direct to indirect employment. In other words, 
this restructuring has led to a revival of industrial outwork and 
subcontracting increasing production in the "informal sector". 

The Informal Sector 

Scholars of industrialization in Latin America debate the degree to 
which informal sector production and employment can be isolated and 
analyzed as separate from that of the formal economy (Fortes 1983, Fortes, 
Castells and Benton 1989)4 . Although the informal sector was originally 
equated with the traditional subsistence sector opposed to economic 
modernization which occurs in the "market" (Geertz 1963), this dualistic 

^Fortes states that a substantial "informal proletariat" provides the urban 
formal sector with the extra-market means of production. According to his 
hypothesis, the urban informal proletariat is readily identifiable since it a) 
does not receive regular money wages; b) does not receive the indirect wage of 
social security coverage; and c) does not retain contractual relations with its 


perspective has been strongly criticized. Scholars who criticize this perspective 
eniphasize the close articulation between formal and informal sectors, the way 
in which this articulation cheapens labor, and the importance of this 
unregulated production for social reproduction (in terms of both production of 
goods for the market and a source of employment) (Safa 1987). 

Fortes and Benton estimated that in 1984, 40 percent of Colombia's urban 
labor force was in the informal sector. For intermediate Colombian cities such 
as Fereira, informal sector participation in production has been estimated to be 
61 percent (Lopez 1987). Recent studies on the process of expansion of the 
informal sector and the restructuring of the labor process demonstrate that the 
most exploited segments of the paid labor force are female (Nash and 
Fernandez-Kelly 1983, Sassen Koob 1984, Fernandez-Kelly 1985, Beneria and 
Roldan 1987, Safa 1990). 

Fortes (1983) distinguishes between three types of production within the 
informal sector: (1) direct subsistence (including subsistence agriculture and 
home production), (2) petty commodity production and exchange (based on the 
labor of the self-employed who produce goods and services for the market); and 
(3) backward capitalist production, which includes small enterprises employing 
unprotected wage labor. The first two may be considered traditional methods 
of incorporating labor in the informal sector, while the third is relatively new 
in Colombia and elsewhere. This research considers subcontracted industrial 
outwork (which Fortes terms backward production) as a mechanism for 
incorporating women's labor in a more vulnerable (less protected, more 
unstable or insecure) position. 


Subcontracted Industrial Outwork 

Subcontracted industrial outwork has recently received renewed 
interest by researchers, largely as a result of the decentralization of production 
since the 1970s (Beneria and Roldan 1987). 

At the conceptual level, homework involves a mixed 
organization of production in which capital takes advantage of 
the prevalent social and economic relations within the 
household. The jobber, the workshop, or the factory gives the 
materials to the worker who is paid by the piece wages for the 
work, but has no control over the product since it is returned to 
the jobber. There is appropriation of labor on the part of the 
jobber, much along the lines based on capitalist relations of 
production (Beneria and Roldan, p.66 1987). 

However, in order to understand the implications of subcontracting for social 
relations of production and women's labor force incorporation, we must 
distinguish between the putting out system of the early European transition 
to capitalism, and industrial outwork performed in contemporary Latin 

Industrial Outwork and Capitalist Development 

Although striking similarities exist between the development of the 
putting out system in Europe and subcontracted industrial outwork in 
Colombia, significant differences also exist. Women's labor force 
incorporation under capitalist development in Colombia is more subordinate 
to both national and multinational capital than it was in Europe. Women, in 
Colombia, maintain less control of the production process, and less frequently 
own the means of production. 


In order to better understand the way in which macro-economic 
processes influence women's labor force incorporation and the household, it 
is important to study these differences between the European case and the 
Colombian case. In general, during the transition to capitalism in Europe, 
the putting out system was controlled by commercial capital, while in 
Colombia today it is controlled by industrial capital. In the garment industry, 
even when production is performed in the home, the large factories maintain 
control of cutting and finishing the product. 

In addition, the accumulation process initiated by commercial capital 
in Europe facilitated the development of national industrial capital (Beneria 
and Roldan 1987). However, in Colombia, this production contributes to the 
accumulation of both national and multinational capital. Though 
subcontracting into the home was less frequent among the factories with 
multinational capital, other forms of contracting works to small workshops 
outside the factory did persist (these will be discussed in detail in Chapter 
Four). Thus small scale entrepreneurs' production contributes to the 
generation of surplus profits by the large multinational factories. 

Further, the ownership of the means of production was different in the 
two cases. At least initially, the putting out system in Europe utilized 
independent producers who owned the means of production (such as sewing 
machines and looms). In Colombia, the machines, as well as the locale where 
production takes place (if it does not occur in the workers home) are often 
owned by the larger factory. In Colombia, the entrepreneur (manager of a 
small scale enterprise) may have the rent for the machines or locale taken out 
of her meager earnings for this subcontracted production. 



This chapter discussed the impact of capitalist development on 
women's labor force incorporation. Women's labor force incorporation in 
eighteenth century Europe was compared to present day Colombia, 
emphasizing the change in location of production as it affects women's 
productive and reproductive responsibilities. The reorganization of social 
relations within the home as a result of the transition from craft production 
to factory production highlighted womens' increasing marginalization within 
the production process. The increasing penetration of international 
capitalism in Third World Countries has led to a deskilling of the work force 
under contemporary monopoly capitalism conditions. The increasing 
feminization of the labor force illustrates the search for increasingly more 
vulnerable labor by industrial capitalists. 

This discussion demonstrates that industries (even those which 
traditionally utilized female labor) such as the garment industry are 
restructuring production to reduce labor costs and to incorporate workers in a 
cheaper, more vulnerable position, with less job security and fewer benefits. 
Both subcontracted industrial outworkers and factory workers are relegated to 
"informal" types of production. The factory workers work becomes 
"informal" when these workers are contracted as temporary workers, for less 
than 90 days, prohibiting them from receiving the benefits of legal contractual 
workers. This incorporation occurs at a time when male unemployment is 
increasing, wages are low, and women's contribution to the household 
income is highly significant. 


Women's labor force incorporation in the new international division 
of labor, is becoming increasingly subordinate to the interests of national and 
multinational capital. However, this incorporation does not occur in a 
vacuum. Women's labor force incorporation is mediated by their household 
responsibilities. The household adapts to the changing forms of women's 
labor force incorporation by assuming new strategies for household 
sustenance. As households (both male and female-headed) jockey for their 
survival, and for a more advantageous position in the work force, they 
reorganize and reallocate their labor. This reallocation of labor is in part the 
result of households' responses to the structure of the labor market (this is 
discussed in depth in chapter 6) and to the current economic crisis. 

In order to understand the mechanisms governing this incorporation 
of female labor in increasingly subordinate positions, it is necessary to link 
the household, and the family with the wider regional, national and 
international patterns of development, including social, economic, political 
and ideological processes, within which they are embedded. The next chapter 
discusses the process of industrialization in Colombia emphasizing the 
increase in temporary labor contracts, and the growth of the informal sector 
along with women's increasing labor force participation. 



...Se utilizan solo la mano de 
obra de la region, y dentro del 
Plan Vallejo se trabaja para 
enviar ...De los EEUU mandan 
todo la material los patrones y 
aqui se trabaja . . . se ponen la 
mano de obra al estilo Taiwan. 
Pereira es el epicentro del Plan 
Vallejo al nivel de la confeccion 
en este sentido. 

Dona Blanca, Tecnologa del 

They utilize only the labor of 
the region, under the Plan 
Vallejo they work to export... 
From the United States they 
send all of the material, the 
patterns, and here they 
assemble it, using the style they 
use in Taiwan. Pereira is the 
epicenter of the Plan Vallejo in 
the garment industry in this 

Dona Blanca, Technologist from 
the SENA. 

This chapter begins with a discussion of the origins of the 
manufacturing industry in Colombia emphasizing the relationship 
between state policy and industrialization in Colombian economic 
development. A description of the structure of the labor force in 
Colombia discusses the historical importance of women's labor force 



incorporation. Next, a brief review of the Antioqueno colonization of 
the Old Caldas region (which today is Risaralda, Caldas and Quindio) 
provides the background for a discussion of the capitalist development 
of the Risaralda region (see Figure 3.1, 3.2). Finally, an exploration of the 
contemporary structure of the manufacturing industry in the 
department of Risaralda focuses specifically on the role of the garment 
industry in the process of industrialization of Pereira and Dos Quebradas 
(see Figure 3.3). 

In order to understand the origins of the manufacturing industry 
in Colombia, we must first consider the extraction of primary products 
which provided the initial capital for industrialization. From the mid- 
nineteenth century, the export sector has been considered the principal 
source of capital accumulation for the country. According to Jose 
Antonio Ocampo, a prominent Colombian economist: "The export 
experience of the nineteenth century was, in the long run, discouraging 
and in terms of specific markets, very unstable (1979: 25)". Ocampo 
delineates three elements which explain the limits to expansion of 
exports in the Colombian case: (1) the position of Colombia in the world 
economy, which tended to generate strong competitive disadvantages for 
the Colombian producers, (2) the presence of backward forms of 
production and (3) the tendency of Colombian capitalists to behave as 
"speculators". (1979: 26). During the last century, investment by 
Colombians was concentrated in commercial and speculative activities 
or in buying certain goods (such as land or cattle) which could be rapidly 
liquidated, serving as a type of money. Investment in productive 
activities was only attractive when world prices for the products were 
high. Consequently, Ocampo states, the expansion of the export sector 


Figure 3.1 Map of South America, Colombia highlighted. 

Figure 3.2 Colombia South America by departments 





15 km 



Figure 3.3 Municipality of Pereira, including Dos Quebradas. 


only occurred when almost any type of production was acceptable in the 
world market. For this reason, the producer - exporters, did not have 
much incentive to maintain a high level of investment of fixed capital 
in industrial development. Their role was more that of speculators. 

Gold was the major export product until the mid nineteenth 
century. During the second half of the nineteenth century, coffee 
assumed increasing importance as a product for exportation. According 
to Alvaro Lopez Toro (1975) gold production for export in the eighteenth 
and nineteenth centuries generated disequilibrium between Antioquia's 
dynamic mining economy and its stagnant traditional agriculture. A 
powerful merchant class emerged to balance this disequilibrium through 
trade. Lopez argues that merchants supplied the export sector with food, 
tools, and clothing, and collected gold for export. Capital accumulation 
in the hands of merchants enabled them to displace the cultural, social, 
and poHtical influence of the class of large landowners engaged in 
traditional agriculture in the highlands around the region's capital, 

Charles Bergquist (1986) demonstrates how the boom and bust of 
export agriculture structured the political history of the nation during 
the nineteenth century. During the first three decades of this century, 
despite considerable growth of gold, banana, and petroleum exports (after 
1925), coffee exports rose from 40 to more than 70 percent of the value of 
Colombia's total exports. The remarkable expansion of the coffee export 
economy enabled the Colombian government to become a major 
recipient of the flood of finance capital emanating from New York banks 
in the years preceding the Great Depression (Bergquist 1986: 297). 


From an early stage, rural coffee producers depended on 
industrially based textile production for their own use. This explains, in 
part, why coffee producing regions often become centers of textile and 
garment production. 

Small coffee farmers never engaged in home textile 
production as rural families in other sectors of the Colombian 
economy traditionally did. Unlike the small tobacco farmers in 
Santander during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries who 
produced textiles in their homes for distribution in other regions, 
and the wool spinners and weavers of highland Boyaca and 
Cundinamarca, coffee farmers depended from the beginning on 
industrially manufactured (and initially imported) cotton cloth for 
most of their clothing needs. Women and female children did, 
however fashion much of their own clothing by hand until the 
use of imported treadle sewing machines became widespread in 
recent decades. Males customarily had their cotton pants made by 
tailors in the towns, a practice that continues to this day,. . . Small 
children, especially among the most impoverished coffee families, 
often still wear little or no clothing. (Bergquist 1986: 322) 

Developm ent of the Manufacturing Industrv in Colombia 

Until the end of the 1880's, industry in Colombia was basically 
artisanal, concentrated in the production of clothes, chocolates, candles, 
and beer located mainly in Bogota. It was only during the first years of 
the twentieth century that industrialization of consumption goods, 
focused in Medellin and Bogota, was begun on a large scale. 

The textile industry in Medellin was a major leader in industrial 
development in the Antioqueno region (of which Medellin is the 
capital). Capital accumulated in coffee exports funded the dynamic 
expansion of this sector in the Anqioqueno region. From 1910 till 1930 
coffee exports increased at a rate superior to 10 percent yearly. Textile 
industrialization flourished in Medellin after 1907 under protectionist 


measures first introduced by the Reyes government. Further, capital 
accumulated through coffee production in this region expanded and 
consolidated the internal market for textiles, assisted in the formation of 
large enterprises in the industrial sector, and through these activities 
strengthened the creation of a salaried workforce in the cities 
(Montenegro and Ocampo 1985). Coltejer and Fabricato, two of the 
largest textile factories in the country were developed through efforts of 
the largest family of coffee merchants (Echavarria). 

Colombian industrialization was assisted by economic and fiscal 
reforms of the administration of Pedro Nel Ospina (1922-27). The 
reorganization of public finances made possible a greater access to 
external credit, while the creation of a central bank provided the base for 
the formation of a monetary system and modern capital market. The 
immediate effects of these reforms were to reduce the interest rates and 
provide a more secure access to sources of financing for new 
investments. The increase in the physical infrastructure put forth by the 
same administration further stimulated more investment in industry 
(Jimenez and Sideri 1985). 

Colombia was, relatively speaking for Latin America, a late-comer 
to industrialization. However, the industrial growth in Colombia 
between 1931 and 1939 was, on the average 12.4 percent, not only the 
highest in Latin America in that decade, but also the highest in the 
industrial history of Colombia. The process of Import Substitution 
Industrialization (ISI) began during the later years of the Liberal 
governments (1940-44), reaching its peak in the late 40's and early 50's 
when Antioqueno industrialists wielded great influence in the 
Conservative Administration. Nevertheless, this rate of growth was 


reduced to 5.4 percent between 1939 and 1945, only to recuperate to 10.2 
percent in the 1950's. While industries such as threads, textiles and 
cigarettes were concentrated in Antioquia, cement and beer were 
centralized in the province of Cundinamarca, and the processing of 
sugar was centralized in Cali. 

With the initiation of industrialization, workers organizations 
also began to flourish. In 1931 worker's organizations were legitimized 
by the government. In 1936 the creation of the CTC (Confederacion de 
Trabajadores Colombianos) promoted advances in the area of social 
security legislation such as law 53 of 1938 which allowed for sick leave 
and maternity leave for workers. The Union of Colombian Workers 
(UTC) was founded in 1946 with assistance from the Catholic church. 

In the years 1945-1950, significant changes in the structure of 
production occurred. The processing of foodstuffs (Galletas la Rosa, 
Cicolac, Fruco) and production of artificial fibers (Pantex, Tejicondor) 
began the diversification of consumer goods. Further, the expansion of 
intermediate goods, mainly in the industries of leather, chemicals, paper, 
and metal products increased dramatically. Growing consumer demands 
made investments in this sector more profitable (Jimenez and Sideri 

The acceleration of import substitution industrialization (ISI) after 
the Second World War supported by state intervention fostered the 
development of large national textile factories that met most of the 
demands of the internal market. Policies established during this period 
encouraged national production of manufactured goods and reduced the 
need for imports (i.e., ISI). Between 1950 and 1958, an increase in the 
production of intermediate goods was accompanied by a decrease in the 


expansion of consumer goods. The most dynamic industrial activities 
were those of wood, paper, leather, chemicals, petroleum derivatives, 
basic metals and non-electric machinery. Although, in general, 
intermediate goods provided the motor for industrial development in 
the 1950s, the situation varied in each region, depending on the structure 
of production in the region; on the integration of factory activity in this 
structure; on modifications given by the installation of new enterprises; 
and on the expansion of markets. In other regions, such as Antioquia 
and Old Caldas, industrial development continued to focus on consumer 
goods (79 percent to 90 percent respectively), although the participation 
of these in the total production of other manufacturing regions was 
decreasing (Jimenez and Sideri 1985). 

Women's Contribution to Industrial Development 

In the 1945 industrial census of Colombia, there were 135,000 
workers registered in the industrial sector, of those 90.111 were men and 
45.289 women (approximately 33 percent female). Approximately one 
third (34.5 percent) of these workers were distributed among 6 
occupations: thread spinners, 3.7 percent, garment workers, 7.6 percent, 
folders, 2.5 percent, packers, 5.6 percent, weavers, 8.5 percent and yarn 
knitters, 6 percent. The occupations most often associated with female 
employment were those which were extensions of the women's 
domestic role, such as textiles, garments, food, and tobacco. This early 
census demonstrates that women's employment was not only limited to 
specific industries, but also to specific occupational categories within 
these industrial categories. Women were much more frequently 

53 i 

relegated to the category "obrera" (worker) as opposed to the category of 
"empleada" (salaried wage worker). The payment for work completed by 
empleadas was greater than that paid to "obreras" because the work of 
empleadas supposedly required a higher level of formal education, and 
therefore more 'technical expertise" (Sandroni 1982). 

The situation of women in these early years of industrialization in 
Bogota, bears some resemblance to the daily lives of the garment workers 
today, in Pereira. In a thesis at the Universidad Nacional, Gabriela 
Pelaez Echeverry (1944) notes: 

The women who work in the factories in this study are single 
and without children because of the personnel selection process of 
the factory. . . This is not found in the 'trilladoras' of coffee, who 
represent the other extreme. It is difficult to find among them, a 
woman who is single without children. . . In these 'trilladoras' 
one finds married women, single, women of all the marital states, 
with children of various ages. Mothers carried their children to 
work at their side. . . (p. 72, cited in Sandroni 1982, my translation). 

She further notes that: 

Of the women who worked only 1 percent, do so to dedicate part 
of their salary to personal expenses. Even those women who are 
alone, orphaned or widowed, need their work in order to live. 
There are fewer cases in which the women must work because of 
death or abandonment by the husband (p.72, cited in Sandroni 
1982, my translation). 

The similarities between women's proletarianization in the 1940s and 
proletarianization in the 1980s demonstrate the continuous search by 
capital for a cheap, vulnerable labor force, i 

1 Statistics for Colombia show that the population of economically active 
women increased between 1951 and 1978 from 18.7 percent to 28.8 percent 
(Flores, Echeverri and Mendez 1987). However, the rate of female labor force 
participation in 1951 (18.7 percent) was close to five times less than the 


From Im port Substitution to the Promotion of Exports 

Colombia's first two National Front governments (1958-1962; 
1962-1966) faced economic problems stemming from the low world price 
for coffee and the shortage of foreign capital with which to import 
consumer goods. Towards the end of the 1960s, under the government 
of Lleras Restrepo, the industrial policy of ISI was reconsidered, and a 
shift towards export promotion began. During this time, the goverment 
assumed a protectionist policy towards the internal market and 
supported exports through exchange (fiscal) policies and the creation of 
tax incentives. Worker benefits established during the 1960's include: 
Cajas de Compensacion Familiar (family compensation) in 1962 and 
legislation regulating benefits for old age, death and disability in 1967. 

The Institute de Fomento Industrial (IFI), created in 1941, received 
increasing financial support during this period. The IFI was originally 
created to assist entrepreneurs wishing to purchase new technology. 
Total credits extended by the IFI rose from $35 million in 1958 to $2,157 

masculine rate (89.3 percent). In 1978, the increase in female activity had 
reduced the difference with a rate of 29 percent for women and 71 percent for 
men. This increase in women's labor force participation results in part from 
the increasing urbanization of the population in the last few decades. In 1984 
there was a greater percentage of women than men in urban areas (53 percent 
versus 47 percent) while the reverse is true of rural areas (48 percent versus 52 
percent {Flores, Echeverri and Mendez 1987}). This may be due, in large part, to 
the employment available in cities for women, mainly domestic servants. 
Marital status also affects the female labor supply in a market with 
preferences for single women. The highest rate of women's economic activity 
is m the group of separated women. This group increased its participation 
from 4.1 percent (1976) to 8.5 percent (1984) which explains in part, the 
increase in female labor force participation (Maldonado and Lozano 1987). 
These figures, however, only reflect female labor force participation in what 
has been termed the 'formal sector'. 


million in 1969, and $4,935 million in 1972. In 1959, Decree 1345 
provided increased tariff protection for industrial capital goods and 
intermediate manufactured goods produced in Colombia. The 
protections applied to the manufacture of paper, iron, glass, electrical 
equipment, fertilizers, synthetic fibers and other high technology- 
products. These protectionist policies encouraged the national 
production of textiles from cotton as well as synthetic fibers. 

Another policy effecting technological change in Colombian 
manufacturing was Law 81 of 1960 which gave industrial tax exemptions 
and write-offs of up to 10 years for investments in a wide variety of 
heavy and high technology industries, as well as providing tax 
incentives for exports of these products. This policy was intended to 
expand import substitution beyond consumer durables to include 
"intermediate" industrial products which served as inputs to the 
manufacture of consumer goods. Thus these policies were designed to 
protect national industry, reduce imports, and promote exports in an 
attempt to improve Colombia's balance of payments and decrease the 
need to borrow foreign capital. These programs encouraged production 
in larger factories, although the degree to which these factories relied on 
smaller enterprises and outwork is not known. 

Few programs were established to provide credit to smaller, more 
labor intensive industries. Some funds from the IFI, especially those 
from the Inter- American Development Bank brought in after 1969, were 
specified for small and intermediate-sized manufacturing plants. 
Another initiative was the establishment in 1967 of the Corporacion 
Financiera Popular (CFP) which provides credit to small industrial 
enterprises that employ less than 100 individuals and have a minimal 


reserve of capital for production. In Risaralda, the CFP has been 
significant in fomenting small scale production in the garment industry. 
The creation of the Fondo Financiero Industrial (FFI) in 1968 
initiated a special means of credit extension to small and medium-sized 
industrial establishments. The FFI provides capital for these 
establishments, decentralizes credit to less developed regions, and 
attempts to create new opportunities for employment. 

During the years 1959-1968, the process of diversification was 
strengthened along with the expansion in the production of 
intermediate goods and of consumer durables. Further, the division of 
work at a regional level was accentuated giving rise to what became 
known as the "golden triangle".^ Industrial development in the Old 
Caldas region, the major coffee producing zone in the country, focused 
on the two major urban centers of Manizales and Pereira. This region 
demonstrated a tendency towards specialization in the production of 
consumer goods, and the rate of growth of the sector of intermediate 
goods surpassed that of the national average (Jimenez and Sideri 1988). 

In 1964 the Sindical Confederation of Colombian Workers (CSTC) 
was founded as a rival to the CTC and the UTC. In 1971 the General 
Confederation of Workers (GCT) originated. This group began in a 
meeting of Antioqueno activists (Accion Sindical Antioquena <ASA>). 
The ideological and political division of the union movement and the 

^The golden triangle refers to the development of Medellin, Bogota, and Call 
as three major industrial centers of the country. Pereira, Risaralda is centrally 
located providing advantageous access to national as well as international 
markets. This regional development is significant in the development of the 
city of Pereira, first as a major commercial center, and later as a producer of 
consumer goods. 


changes which have been expressed in the last 30 years are manifested in: 
(1) the growth of new centers, the CSTC in 1964 and the CGT in 1970, (2) 
the loss of power of the CTC to the UTC, and (3) more recently the 
considerable growth of the unions not affiliated with any confederation 
(Gomez, Perry, Londono 1986). 

A legal system of contracting workers for selected periods of time, 
or items of production was accepted in 1965 with decree 2351 of the 
Colombian Labor Code (Corchuelo 1987). Article 4 of this decree 
practically institutionalized this contracting method. These unprotected 
workers may actually appear to participate in "formal" sector production 
when they are hired as workers within the factory for periods of less than 
90 days. Under these contracts, workers do not receive any social security 
benefits, and have no guarantee of job security. This may be interpreted 
as "informalizing" the "formal" sector by contracting labor for 
production in a much more 'casual' manner (Bromley and Gerry 1978). 
Article 4 of decree 2351 states that contracts for less than one year are 
possible in order to replace workers on vacation, for increases in 
production, or increases in sales. 

However, according to a representative of the Union of Colombian 
Workers, the CUT, 

The managers of the factory have abused this article and made 
this practice a custom. This type of contract has been increasing 
since 1970, very sporadically contracts are made for 1 year - 
especially in the garment industry. All contracts are made for 2 
or 3 months. This practice has been institutionalized to the 
detriment of the workers. Every year workers' benefits are 
liquidated and the worker signs a new contract starting from 
zero. Another year passes and the same thing occurs. This 
practice has generated much unemployment, among other 
things... (personal interview May 20 1989). 


Temporary Employment 

Considering both the salaried work force and independent 
workers, temporary employment represented 16 percent of total 
employment in 1984, a rise from 10 percent in 1980 (DANE 1984). The 
productive activity which relies most heavily on the generation of 
temporary work in Colombia is the manufacturing industry (Corchuelo 
1987). Subcontracting is a specific case of contracting where the labor 
demand is generally oriented towards home-based workers or small- 
scale enterprises. The utilization of the subcontracting arrangement is 
usually based on the relatively cheaper labor costs, the evasion of labor 
norms in these work places, the technological level of the home-based 
worker or small-scale enterprise, and the flexibility in the contracting 
and firing of workers due to changes in the level of economic activity. 

At the national level, the number of temporary workers in private 
employment in Colombia increased from 10.5 percent of the labor force 
in 1980 to 16.5 percent in 1987.3 According to the Colombian labor code, 
there are two styles of labor contracting: contracts for fixed terms, and 
contracts for an indefinite term. The stipulations for fixed term contract 

3ln this region, temporary employment has increased as owners of the largest 
exporting factory rehire workers under new contracts. Recently this 
enterprise bought another large factory in the region. Management then 
began to move the workers from one factory to another. When the workers, 
who had a contract for a fixed period of time circulated from one factory to the 
other, they signed new contracts changing the status of their work from a 
fixed time period, to a shorter period of time, less than 90 days ~ or solely for 
the production of a specific article (interview with union leader). 


(1) The contract for fixed term must always be written, their 
duration cannot be less than 1 year or greater than 3 years, but it is 
renewable indefinitely; (2) Temporary or occasional workers can 
be used to replace workers on vacation, to meet increases in 
production demand, etc. (this is discussed in more detail under 
temporary workers); (3) If prior to the expiration date of the 
contract, neither party advises the other party in writing, of their 
intentions to not prolong the contract with anticipation of 30 days, 
the contract will be understood to be renewed for one year; (4) a 
contract requiring highly specialized or technical work may be for 
less than a year (personal interview May 1989 with union official). 

The contract of indefinite work is subject to the following conditions: 

(1) The contract not stipulated to be under a fixed contract will 
refer to one of indefinite time, the duration of this work is not 
determined by the nature of the task, and does not refer to casually 
contracted labor. (2) The indefinite contract is valid as long as the 
conditions which gave rise to its origin and the material of work 
are available. The worker can terminate the contract through a 
written notice of 30 days. If this advance notice is not given, then 
article 8 number 7 will apply for the entire time, or for the lapse of 
working time which was not completed (personal interview May 
1989 with union official). 

Often temporary workers are hired under the fixed term contracts. 

According to the Colombian work code, temporary employment is 

classified into two groups: that constituted by temporary workers 

contracted directly by the factory, and temporary workers contracted by an 

independent agency called "Bolsas de Empleo". The most prevalent 

form of employment in the garment industrial branch of manufacturing 

activity in Colombia is contracted directly by the factory. Two of the 

three modalities involve work within the factory, the third is contracted 

outside the factory. The types of work encountered in this group 



1) Contracting occasional workers - these contracts are generally 
for only one month and are distinct from the normal workings of 
the factory. 

2) Contracts of a definite term - contracts of less than one year, 
temporary replacement, labor related to requirements caused by 
production increases, including labor related to the transportation 
of goods or the sale of production due to this increase. 

3) Contracts to home workers - contracts related to the completion 
of certain phases of the production process performed outside of 
the factory. This work is generally paid by the piece. 

Textile Production 

To understand the implications of changes in the structure of 
production and the social relations of production , we now turn to a 
study of the specific example of the textile industry. From the initial 
phases of industrialization, textile production flourished in the 
Antioqueiia region. In 1920, 13 companies existed in the region. By 1945 
only four of the original 13 factories remained; the small factories were 
absorbed by the larger ones. Until 1974, textile production developed 
fairly rapidly, stimulated by the dynamism of the internal market and 
the progressive opening of the export sector. Between 1970 and 1973 
production and employment in textiles grew at an average annual rate of 
between 13 percent and seven percent respectively (Londono 1986). This 
rate was superior to the industrial average, and the average of the total 
economy. After 1974, the expansion of the textile industrial sector began 
to decline, initially as a consequence of the reduction in the domestic 
sales, an increase in internal prices of 60 percent, and a deterioration in 
the ability of the majority of the population to purchase textiles (Paus 
1982). Although total exports grew by 65 percent, during this year (1974) 
contribution of the textile sector to exports was reduced to eight percent. 


In the textile sector, inventory represented up to 13 percent of production 
in contrast with five percent in previous years. 

The overvaluation of the peso due in part to the 1970s coffee 
bonanza and the beginning of the drug trade resulted in a decrease in 
textile exports. The influx of coffee and drug earnings was also 
inflationary resulting in a large increase of contraband and legal imports, 
and a loss of industrial and export possibilities. At the height of the 
textile crisis (1979-82) the repercussions for workers began to be seen 
through collective and individual firing, indemnification of workers 
and forced retirement. The increase in the internal prices for textiles, as 
part of the decrease in exports, especially in the first part of the crisis had 
further ramifications in the garment factories. Many of these garment 
factories were forced to close during this period in part because of the 
increasing price of textiles.. 4 

In 1975, the world recession, and the dramatic drop in exports 
worsened the situation. Competition from countries such as Hong 
Kong, Taiwan and Korea decreased the demand for Colombian 
industrial exports. In general, the factory owners blame the government 
of Lopez Michelsen for this decrease.^ Other scholars, however, state that 
aspects such as the monopolistic and overprotective structure of the 

4ln Bogota and Barranquilla 9 garment factories closed down, leaving 
approximately 4,900 workers without jobs. In Pereira 2 large enterprises Galex 
and Jarcano also closed (Londono 1986). These factory closings in Pereira will 
be discussed in more detail in Chapter 6. 

5 The government's liberation of interest rates, decrease in the rate of 
monetary devaluation, and liberation of imports produced an increase in the 
financial costs of the industry, and an increase in the inputs and labor which 
affected the ability of the industry to compete with contraband on the internal 
market, and with other industrializing nations in the external market 
(Londono 1986). 


industry leading to low productivity have been determinants in the loss 
of competitiveness of the industry in the international market 
(Morawitz 1989). 

Export Promotion and Industrial Development 

Emphasis on export promotion continued with the conservative 
government of Misael Pastrana Borrero (1970-1974). During this period 
spatial concentration of industrial development continued in eight 
major centers including: Bogota, Call and Medellin, and on a lesser 
scale, Barranquilla, Cartagena, Bucaramanga, Pereira and Manizales. 
When considering the industrial growth of the regions by sectors, 
Bogota, Cartagena, Barranquilla, Pereira and Manizales demonstrated 
growth rates of the production of intermediate goods superior to those of 
the rest of the country. In regard to capital goods, Medellin, Barranquilla, 
Bucaramanga, Cartagena, Pereira and Manizales present superior growth 
levels. The greater dynamism of the sectors of intermediate and capital 
goods in the eight industrial centers confirms the progressive 
transformation of the productive industrial structure of the country, as 
well as the unexpected and rapid growth of Cartagena, Manizales, 
Pereira, and Bucaramanga during the 1970's (Jimenez and Sideri 1985). 

The importance of Medellin, Bucaramanga, Manizales and Pereira 
in the production of consumer goods can be seen in specific activities: 
textiles for Medellin, tobacco in Bucaramanga, garments in Pereira, and 
foodstuffs in Manizales, areas in which these cities have been 
specializing since the late 1960's. Specifically in the case of Manizales 


and Pereira, the industrial centers of Old Caldas, the determining factor 
in the industrial expansion appears to be the new investment of foreign 
capital. Contrary to what happened in the Antioqueno region, the local 
industry of Pereira has grown without a strong connection to the 
agricultural coffee barons in the region. This differs from the 
development of the textile industry in Medellin, and has led to 
investment of the capital accumulated in industrialization in the 
region, to other geographical areas (Jimenez and Sideri 1985). 

At the national level, despite a decline in coffee income, the 
export sector grew in 1989 with a 16 percent increase in earnings over the 
previous year. Coffee accounted for just 23 percent of export earnings, 
approximately the same percentage as petroleum. Textiles and garments 
were among the fastest growing sectors doubling their value in 1989 to 
an estimated 507 million, eight percent of total exports (Colombia Today 

More recently, Colombian industrial enterprises have been 
affected by the international economic recession, and the Latin American 
debt crisis. Although Colombia's foreign debt ($16,500 million by 1988)6 
was manageable by Latin American standards, it placed a large drain on 
scarce resources, as the debt cost the country seven percent of the GNP 
for that year. 

60f this 16,500 million dollars, 13,100 was owed by the public sector; 40 percent 
by electricity and coal and oil sectors alone. 


Antioqueno Coloniz ation of Old Caldas and the Subsequent Development of 
Pereira as a producer of consumer goods 

The foundation of Pereira in 1863 was an important event in the 
Antioqueno colonization of Western Colombia, causing profound 
economic, social and cultural changes in the country. Prior to the 
nineteenth century, the lack of successful colonization of this region was 
attributed to the physical difficulties of the area. By the end of the 
eighteenth century, groups of peasants and merchants from the eastern 
area of Medellin (Rionegro and Marinilla) began to migrate southward. 
For over 100 years, this migration opened up the southeastern part of 
what is today the Antioqueno region, and all of the Old Caldas region. A 
combination of factors led to the opening of the southern border of the 
Antioqueno region including: (1) the search for other sources of gold, (2) 
the expansion of agricultural cultivation to satisfy the needs of the 
growing population, (3) the search for new and more fertile lands for the 
production of coffee. 

Agricultural Development 

The economy of the Old Caldas region was initially based on 
agriculture, mining, and cattle raising. Cocoa, leather, and gold were the 
principal commercial articles. Coffee, introduced into the region in 1865, 
only became a fundamental pillar of the Old Caldas economy during the 
beginning of the twentieth century. The production of coffee in this 
region was based on small-holder plots. However, in recent years there 
has been an increasing concentration of land into large latifundios. 


In 1930, 73.7 percent of the coffee fincas occupied less than five 
hectares and produced only 26 percent of the final crop, while 
seven percent of the fincas occupied more than 20 hectares and 
produced 46 percent of the crop. Thirty six years later, the large 
fincas represented 85 percent of the total <number of hectares > 
and had increased their participation in production to 65 percent 
(Christie 1974). 

Although an Agrarian Reform Program was begun in 1961, by the 
end of the 1960's its goals for small peasant groups was far from being 
realized. Land concentration and the weakening of the progressive 
peasant organization (ANUC) implemented during Pastrana's 
government contributed to the unsuccessful implementation of the 
agrarian reform. 

Statistics from 1970 demonstrate that in Risaralda, units of less 
than 10 hectares composed 73 percent of the total arable land, and 7.2% of 
its surface area, while units with over 100 hectares composed only 4 
percent of the units, and covered 67 percent of the surface area (Fajardo 
1980). According to statistics from the National Federation of Coffee 
Growers in Colombia (FEDERACAFE) the area occupied by productive 
coffee in 1970 was distributed as follows: Antioquia 14.5 percent, Tolima 
12.8 percent, Valle 12 percent, Cundinamarca 9.6 percent, Caldas, 8.3 
percent, Cauca 7.4 percent Quindio 7.9 percent, Santander 7.9 percent, 
Risaralda 5.8 percent and the rest of the sections of the country 13.9 
percent, placing Risaralda in eighth place. In 1980 the situation had not 
changed considerably. Antioquia increased its participation by 14.7 
percent within the superficies of coffee production, Caldas 9.9 percent 
and Risaralda to 6.5 percent. 


In the department of Risaralda, from 1932 to 1970 the number of 
coffee farms relative to the municipal areas increased slightly in the 
areas of Marsella Apia and Guatica, a bit more in Pueblo Rico, Pereira, 
Balboa , Santa Rosa de Cabal, and Belen de Umbria, and in the other 
three administrative units (Mistrato, Quinchia and Santuario), it 

Those v^ho have acquired coffee lands are from a class 
which is not linked directly to agriculture, rather it is the 
professional class. If you go to Marsella, a typical municipio, one 
finds coffee land owned by engineers, lawyers, dentists because, 
through this mechanism, they pay a high price for the coffee 
lands. . . They are changing a peasant class for an industrial class 
which does not have any peasant ancestry, but which is joining, 
with a great force, the cultivation of coffee at the national level 
(Lopez 1988: 108, my translation). 

Table 3.1 shows the concentration of coffee lands in the 
department. In 1970, for example, the coffee fincas with less than 4 
hectares represented 53.8 percent of the total and comprised only 10.1 
percent of the land. Coffee lands with less than 10 hectares {77.7 percent 
of the total of the producers) constituted 26.7 percent of the land. In the 
other extreme, 346 coffee fincas (2.5 percent of the total) had coffee areas 
based on the size of 50 hectares occupied 29.1 percent of the land. The 
rest, or 44.2 percent of coffee land was managed by medium sized 
producers (from 10 to 49.99 hectares) which constituted 19.8 percent of 
the total of coffee units. 

This brief discussion of the coffee economy in the department 
reveals the growth of an agrarian economy in which the large capitalist 
coffee enterprises assume an important role in coffee production, with a 
tendency to exclude the small producer (Lopez 1982). The relationship 



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between coffee production in the rural areas, and the industrial growth 
manifested in the urban sector will be considered next. 

Industrial Development 

In the 1920's the first large industrial establishments appeared in 
Pereira. This period coincided with one of economic prosperity for 
Colombia. In part this was the consequence of the price of coffee which 
reached high levels between 1924 and 1927. After 1940, the garment 
industry developed rapidly based on existing artisanal activities. 
Clothing production in the 1930's and 1940's had been realized primarily 
by artisans in small factories. The following quotation demonstrates the 
type of relationship which existed between the outworkers, agents, and 
factory owners in the 1930's: 

As agents we contracted seamstresses who worked in their homes. 
Monday we gave them the cloth, already cut, thread, buttons, and 
other materials. Friday we received the merchandise to take it to 
the market on Saturdays and Sundays. The relationships with the 
workers were informal, based on friendship and mutual trust. For 
example it was a common practice to advance money to the 
workers in times of economic necessity. It was also common to 
loan money to workers so that they could buy sewing machines 
(Manuel Rodrigo Becerra, 1979: 23, my translation). 

Almost all of the garment factories of Pereira were established by 

merchants or individuals who had worked as laborers in garment 

factories. Some were merchants who started their factories based on a 

small workshop located in the back of their stores. Some of these owners 

were operators of garment factories, who, based on modest savings from 

the profits of their work, established small workshops. 


According to a study comparing the industrial development of 
Pereira and Manizales by Manuel Rodriguez Becerra (1979), 75 percent of 
the garment factories in Pereira today are the product of individuals or a 
family who promoted and supported their own industry. In the rest of 
the cases, the factories generally belonged to the action of a small group 
of commercial businessmen. !' 

In 1935 two industrialists from the Antioqueno region of 
Colombia, Carlos and Israel Restrepo, initiated the Charles shirt factory. 
Later, two gentlemen, Jaramillo and Cano, owners of the largest 
imported goods store, opened a factory in the back of their shop called 
'Jarcano'. The Jarcano shirt became a very respected label, and though it 
was originally produced for the Garantia factory, they eventually became 
independent, and a small workshop was opened in the home of 

Foreign investment in the industrial development of Pereira 
began in 1936 with the establishment of the garment factory La Garantia. 
Foreign investment continues to provide substantial employment for 
the region. In 1973 factories dominated by foreign capital employed 20 
percent of the personnel incorporated in manufacturing industry 
(Arango 1989). 


Table 3.2 

Pereira-Dos Quebradas: 
Foreign capital in local Industry, 1988 

Enterprise Year Capital Percent of Personnel 

Founded Origin Foreign capital Employed 

Panos Omnes 1950 Panama 
(Textiles) France 

United States 


La Rosa 1950 


Hilos Cadena 1952 













England 100 700 

100 817 

92 600 

1967 United States 50 400 

1975 United States 80 900 

85 311 

Valher 1969 United States 51 500 


Source : Jaime Arango Gaviria, 1989. 

In the 1950's three factories of foreign capital initiated production 
in Pereira: the factory Panos Omnes (1950), a subsidiary of a French 
textile factory; the factory of Confites and Galletas La Rosa, 1950, 
subsidiary of an EngHsh multinational, and the factory Hilos Cadena 


(1954) subsidiary of a Swiss multinational. In the 1960's the presence of 
foreign capital increased in Pereira with the addition of the following 
factories: (1) Papeles Nacionales, which began in 1962 as the subsidiary of 
a Canadian firni; (2) a car assembly firm (Roa Hispano Colombiana) 
founded by a group of Spaniards and a group from Pereira, a project 
which later failed. 

In the 1960's several different projects were developed to foment 
manufacturing industry in the city. These projects were promoted by a 
groups of Pereirano industrialists (one third of whom were garment 
factory owners) who actively participated in the promotion and 
strengthening of industries different from the traditional ones and the 
foundation of the group "Promotora Industrial". This group provided 
the base for the creation of the Corporacion Financiera del Occident 
which provided economic assistance and credit to large scale factories. 
The foundation of a local branch of the Corporacion Financiera Popular 
in Pereira in 1969 significantly advanced manufacturing production in 
the city by providing credit to small scale producers. This organization 
has played a central role in the development of small scale industries, 
especially in the garment industry. 

The exportation of garments in Colombia is regulated by the Plan 
Vallejo first implemented in 1967. The Plan Vallejo is one of the most 
important tools in the promotion of exports and in international 
commerce for the region. This decree defines the operations in which 
individuals, societies, exporters, or merchants can import raw materials 
destined for assembly in the country, and later export the assembled 
materials. The raw material or disassembled pieces imported under this 
plan, must be used exclusively in the production of goods destined for 


exportation. Through this process, the importers acquire the right to 
bring into the country, on a second occasion, the same quantity of raw 
material previously imported without having to pay taxes. 

The majority of exports under the Plan Vallejo are destined to the 
United States. Further, more than 80 percent of imports which come 
from the United States for assembly in Colombia are destined to garment 
production. In Pereira, more than 20 firms participate directly in 
production for exportation under the Plan Vallejo and about 25 garment 
factories participate either indirectly (subcontracted) or directly. 

Regional Develop mpnt 

Pereira, the capital of Risaralda, is a city which has grown from 
115,000 to 287,00 inhabitants between 1951 and 1985. In 1951, 66 percent 
of the population of the Risaralda was rural and 34 percent urban. In 
1985, only 19 percent of the population lived in the rural areas and 
Pereira figured as the tenth city in national importance for its urban 
population. However, the industrial development of Pereira must be 
evaluated in direct relation to the changes and evolution of the 
population in Dos Quebradas (the industrial zone to the north of the 
city). Dos Quebradas doubled its population between 1973 and 1985 
passing from 50,000 to 103,000 inhabitants. Dos Quebradas grew notably 
in its density from 700 inhabitants /square km to almost 1500 inhabitants 
/square km. Pereira had a moderate increase with the population in its 
total area increasing from 346 to 438 inhabitants per square km. In the 
two municipal areas, the "rural" density also doubled. 


These facts demonstrate the tendency of the population of 
Risaralda to be concentrated in these two cities. While in 1973 Pereira 
and Dos Quebradas maintained approximately 55 percent of the 
Risaralda population, in 1985 this proportion had grown to almost 63 
percent. 7 In 1973 the rate of in-migration was 35 percent for Quindio, 30 
percent for Risaralda and 17 percent for Caldas. In the same year, Pereira 
presented a high rate of immigration with 56 percent. As with other 
large cities (Bogota, Ibague, Cali and Armenia among others), Pereira 
maintains a rate of immigrants to natives greater than 1. 

In order to understand these processes of redistribution and 
relocation of the population, we must consider the material conditions 
in which the regional economy develops. As previously mentioned, 
coffee production dominates the regional economy. In the last few years, 
coffee production has decreased its importance because of the rapid 
decline in international prices (e.g. the breaking of the London Pact in 
1989), the invasion of a bacteria called roya, and the increase in the price 
of the inputs and fertilizer required. All of these factors contribute to the 
precarious condition of the small coffee farmers who can hardly afford to 

^Census data from 1973 and 1985 for Pereira and Dos Quebradas demonstrate 
that salaried workers (empleados, obreros and jornaleros and empleados 
domesticos) who made up 73 percent of the labor force in 1973 maintained this 
level of participation in 1985. However, independent workers grew from 12 
percent in 1973 to 19 percent in 1981 demonstrating that the informal sector of 
the economy continues to expand while the formal sector maintains its level of 
productivity. During the past decade, economic concentration in the Pereira - 
Dos Quebradas region has led to an increase in the economically active 
population, especially in the category of independent worker. The increasing 
number of productive small scale enterprises in the region demonstrate some 
of the variety of ways in which workers are increasingly incorporated into the 
labor force in a disadvantaged state, with few benefits and no protection. 


produce their traditional coffee. In 1989 a 40 percent fall in coffee prices 
led to the impoverishment of many small producers (Pearce 1990). 
Decreases in regional production and commercialization of coffee 
eliminated considerable regional employment in the rural areas. The 
development of capitalist agriculture has affected the relations of 
production in the rural areas. These rural workers, displaced by 
technified machinery in the coffee fincas, migrate initially towards 
Pereira and Dos Quebradas, forming part of the growing urban 
proletariat and labor for import substitution. 

Charles Bergquist describes the situation in the region as follows: 

. . In the decades since mid-century there has been steady 
concentration of landholding patterns in Colombian agriculture, 
an increase in mechanization and capitalist investment in 
agriculture, and a corresponding growth in the number of landless 
wage workers in the countryside. Even coffee production, which 
historically proved so resistant to pure capitalist forms and 
favored the growth and maintenance of small producers and the 
family owned and operated farm, has witnessed in recent decades 
a revolution in production techniques, tenancy and labor systems. 
The application of capital and advanced techniques to coffee 
production has, since mid-century slowly undermined the 
competitive position of smallholders. (Bergquist 1986:371). 

Undoubtedly developments in rural agriculture have affected 

urban industrial developments. The growing urban population, in part, 

determines the structure of the potential labor force. 

Regional Manufacturing Industry 

In Pereira, formal sector industrial production is dominated by 
five industries: foodstuffs, beverages, textiles, garments and paper. Table 
3.3 describes the structure of industrial production in the region. As this 


table demonstrates, foodstuffs generated the most production, as well as 
employed the largest number of personnel. However, garments 
maintained the largest number of establishments and were not far 
behind foodstuffs in 1981 with 26.5 percent of the personnel employed. 
Further, because the nature of subcontracting within the garment 
industry hides many workers in clandestine workshops or their homes, 
the total number of employees, and actual production figures are 
probably higher than census estimates. 

Table 3.3 

Pereira-Dos Quebradas. Manufacturing Industry. 
General Summary: Percent Participation, 1981 





Paper 2.2 



Number of 







231 (100%) 

Gross Product Percentage of 

Millions of Dollars Total 



20,525 (100)% 

Source : Arango 1989. 

Major indicators of manufacturing industrial activity in Colombia 
situate the metropolitan area of Pereira-Dos Quebradas as the sixth in 
importance in value added, number of establishments, production. 


intermediate consumption, salaries, and benefits. In 1982 Pereira 
occupied the fifth place in quantity of personnel occupied with the most 
active industrial activities including food, drinks, textiles, garments, and 
paper. Garments, together with foodstuffs, account for over 50 percent of 
the industrial activity in the region. The active presence of foreign 
investment in the large factories reinforces the concentration of capital 
in the industrial sector. This foreign investment is often consolidated to 
the point that many establishments (including those involved in 
garment production), have less than 20 percent Colombian participation 
(Arango 1989). The increasing foreign participation in the regional 
economy demonstrates their increased dependence on international 
forces for generating the capital for local and regional industries. 

Contemporary Colombian Development 

Recently the Colombian economy has begun a process of "opening". 
This process is part of a plan to internationalize the Colombian economy and 
modernize their productive capacity. The liberalization of exports and 
"opening up" of the Colombian economy to foreign investors affects all 
industrialists (large, medium and small). 

This so called "opening up" of the Colombian economy will allow 
products from the exterior to compete with Colombian products. This 
opening involves (in addition to changes in foreign commerce policy) a 
variety of entities (including "proexpo" the Colombian entity inovlved with 
regulating Exports, and Incomex, the agency involved in regulating Imports) 
and a series of structural reforms in financing, foreign exchange, 
transportation and labor (Semana 12/21/1990). The goal of this process is to 


increase the growth rate of the econoomy, limited by the size of the national 
economy. One theory is that if industrialists become more competitive in the 
international market and suceed in selling their product, their growth 
possibilities are greater and they will be able to generate more employment. 

However, this "economic opening" must occur gradually in order to 
allow the industrialists to prepare for competition in the foreign market. 
This involves "industrial conversion" or the modernization of the 
machinery in the factories. Often this modernization results in the 
utilization of machinery which replaces the work of several individuals. 
This "industrial conversion" contradicts the above mentioned theory of 
employment generation which should accompany the industrial opening. If, 
in order to compete in the international market, workers are replaced with 
machines (which supposedly do the job faster and more efficiently) where is 
the employment generation? 

While these policies may be beneficial to the large scale producer, the 
small scale producers are in a disadvantaged position. Their lack of 
independent access to a market (without being subcontracted) their lack of 
access to capital, their limited access to technology, and their lack of 
knowledge of the production process subordinate these producers to the 
larger capitalist enterprises. The weakest link in this chain of development 
(which begins with increasing production of the large scale capitalist and ends 
with employment generation) are the workers. Even though the Colombian 
Congress has approved "the most ambitious labor reform in forty years" the 
degree to which these reforms actually protect the workers, and the degree to 
which they can be adequatley enforced are debatable. 

These labor reforms modify four aspects of the labor regime: (1) the 
individual's rights to work, (2) the collective rights of workers, (3) the 


management of temporary work agencies and (4) norms regarding the closure 
of factories. In the regulation of labor laws the most important changes 
related to the "cesantias" or pensions of the workers. Cesantias are pensions 
(or an extra mointh of pay) received by workers. The new labor reform 
eliminates the retroactive nature of pensions. The pensions of the workers 
was set when they were hired and, and was subject to the cost of living at that 
time. Under this plan workers were disadavantaged because while the cost of 
living rose, their pension rate was fixed much lower. However, the new law 
which goes into effect in 1991 guarantees the workers a profit equal to the 
market rate. The pensions which are not used by the workers will further be 
guaranteed 12 % interest. One of the major drawbacks of this new law is that 
it only affects workers who are hired in 1991. 

In addition, a new law was introduced which introduces the "integral 
salary" a salary which covers more than just the basic needs of an individual 
(equivalent, perhaps to what we call in English the family wage). This 
"integral salary", however, is only available for those who make more than 
10 minimum wage salaries (only four percent of the Colombians population 
earn this wage). However, the limited worker benefits provided by the new 
"cesantias" laws are minimal, especially when one considers that only those 
who work in the "formal" sector are affected by this legislation. 

In order to consider how these political changes affecting industrial 
development impact on women's labor force incorporation and household 
strategies for income generation, we must return to a consideration of the 
garment workers households. As previously stated, declining wages 
accompanied by rising unemployment have led to women's assuming a 
primary role in income generating strategies for household survival. Ina 
addition the continuing decHning value of the peso, coupled by sustained 


violence in rural areas has lead to increased prices for food, and a rising cost 
of living, adding to the economic pressures at the household level. 


This chapter began with a discussion of the origins of the 
manufacturing industry in Colombia emphasizing the relationship 
between state policy and industrialization in Colombian economic 
development. The evolution of industrial development in Colombia 
was characterized by certain regions specializing in the production of 
consumer goods, with other regions assuming dominance in the 
production of capital goods. The development of a "golden triangle" 
provided Pereira with an advantageous position for the production of 
consumer goods. The increasing technification of coffee production in 
the last few years and the industrial growth in the Metropolitan Area of 
Pereira (including Pereira and Dos Quebradas) have led to high rates of 
migration from the rural to urban areas. Finally, an exploration of the 
contemporary structure of the manufacturing industry in the 
department of Risaralda demonstrated the predominance of the garment 
industry in the process of industrialization of Pereira and Dos Quebradas. 
The dominance of garment production (which utilizes mainly a female 
labor force) in the history of industrialization of this region highlights 
the importance of women's labor force participation in regional 

In the next chapter I consider the structure of the labor market of 
the garment industry in more detail, focusing on the mechanism of 
subcontracting within the process of production. The process of 


subcontracting deternnines the context within which the home-based 
workers and micro-entrepreneurs produce for the garment industry. 




The future generations laid 
waste by the hunger of capital 
for higher rates of accumulation 
are yet to be known...The present 
victims of its capacity are all 
too frequently women... 
Elson and Pearson 1981 

Chapter Three discussed the socioeconomic aspects of regional 
development responsible for the increase in subcontracting. This chapter 
examines the structure of production within the garment industry as it 
conditions women's labor force participation. "Putting-out" part of the 
production process, through a formal or informal contract, is called 
subcontracting. Subcontracting is a mechanism which fragments and 
decentralizes production creating a hierarchy of better paid, more secure jobs 
in the factory, which contrast in general with low-paying home-based 
production. The Hnkages created by the process of subcontracting are discussed 
as mechanisms which create and reproduce subordinate hierarchical social 
relationships in the garment industry. A discussion of the variety of linkages 
(intermediaries who obtain home-based workers for the factory who are 
external to factory, factory workers who serve as intermediaries, or no 
intermediaries) utiHzed to link subcontracted producers to different types of 



enterprises (subcontracted industrial outworkers, family small-scale 
enterprises, and non-familial, small-scale enterprises) follows, emphasizing 
the autonomy and /or subordination of the producer in relation to the larger 
capitalist factories. 

The role of intermediaries, their characteristics, and the control which 
they exercise over subcontracted producers' access to, and control of, key 
resources are discussed. The significance of the division of labor by gender can 
be seen in that the majority of the intermediaries are men. These 
intermediaries, in turn, control the labor of subcontracted industrial 
outworkers, who are generally women. The work of an intermediary requires 
traveling alone and working with male factory owners. For these reasons, the 
majority of the intermediaries are men. In this research, only one woman 
intermediary was encountered. This woman was a widow, free from the 
ideological constraints which prohibit most women from traveling alone as 

The Subcontractine Relationship 

Watanabe (1983) distinguishes two types of subcontracting: (1) those 
factories that contract out production without raw materials (in other words, 
the home-based worker is responsible for providing the raw materials) and (2) 
those that provide raw materials and other inputs. Beneria and Roldan (1987), 
in their study of subcontracting relationships in Mexico, refer to the first as 
"vertical subcontracting" and the second as "horizontal". Both methods of 
subcontracting were encountered in this Colombian study. The majority of 
the subcontracted industrial outworkers, however, participated in horizontal 


subcontracting which utilized intermediaries. The high percentage of 
subcontracted industrial outworkers in the category of horizontal 
subcontracting is due in part to the cost of the raw materials. In horizontal 
subcontracting the subcontracted industrial outworkers do not have to provide 
these raw materials, facilitating entrance into this sector. In general, vertical 
subcontracting (which requires enough initial capital to purchase raw 
materials on the part of the worker) was done directly with the small-scale 
enterprises and subcontracted industrial outworkers; intermediaries were not 

Horizontal subcontracting accentuates the differences between the factory 
and the subcontracted industrial outworkers. Generally the control of the raw 
materials and structuring of the process of production remains with the large 
factory. Under vertical subcontracting, the price for the final garment is 
significantly higher, and the subcontracted industrial outworker maintains 
more control of the production. This control ranges from designing the 
garment and cutting it to finishing it off. 

Production which occurs in the home as subcontracted industrial 
outwork is usually small-scale, unregulated, and labor intensive, which places 
it in the category of "informal sector" production. Whether we are discussing 
sub-contracting relationships between the first world and the third world, 
within a country, or within a city, subcontracting represents a fragmentation 
and decentralization of the labor process. 

The Subc ontracting Relationship in Risaralda 

The subcontracting relationship structures a considerable amount of 
production in the garment industry in this region. According to this research. 


70 percent of the garment factory owners in Pereira and Dos Quebradas 
participate in the subcontracting chain, either directly or indirectly. In other 
words, 70 percent of the owners stated that they work for other factories, 
meaning that they produce part or all of a garment for the other factory during 
certain times of the year. Fifty percent said that they send work to others, 
meaning that they send work out to other factories, small-scale enterprises, or 
subcontracted industrial outworkers, while 40 percent of the factories 
participate in both forms of contracting, that is, they work for other factories 
and send work to other factories. These data demonstrate the importance of 
analyzing the industrial mechanism of subcontracting in order to accurately 
analyze the structure of the labor force in the industry (see Figure 4.1). 



50% of Owners interviewed 



40 % of Owners Interviewed 

/ / 

70-80 % of total workers in garment industry (Estimate) 

Figure 4.1 
Diagram of Subcontracting Chain in Pereira, Risaralda 

Subcontracting work to homeworkers occurs most frequently at the end 
of the year (Christmas holiday season), father's day, and mother's day. These 
are times of the year when the demand for clothing as gifts is highest. In this 
case, subcontracting offers the possibility of transferring the risks of 


fluctuations in production and the costs associated with temporary increases in 
the production, both in machinery and personnel, to homeworkers. 

Subcontracting extends fragmentation of the labor process beyond the 
factory. The process of decentralization within the factory lowers the cost of 
the labor force through deskilling of the workers (Braverman 1974). This 
occurs through the breaking down of jobs into smaller and smaller tasks, and 
the utilization of workers with less skills who work for a lower salary. This 
division can also be seen between large, medium, small factories and 
subcontracted industrial outworkers. The organization of production through 
subcontracting not only minimizes labor costs, but also wrestles control from 
actual producers over their products. Fragmentation of the labor process, 
therefore, is extended beyond the factory (Beneria 1989). 

The garment industry makes women's work invisible by contracting it 
out into the home. The main mechanism by which this process is pushed 
underground and made invisible is through organization of production 
through subcontracting. Subcontracting decreases the infrastructure 
investment necessary on the part of the large capitalist enterprise in machines, 
electricity, and building space. There is also a reduction in the number of 
workers for whom the factory is responsible in terms of social security 
payments and other benefits. Key informants of this research stated that 
approximately 80 percent of workers participating in the garment industry 
perform their jobs outside the formal factory setting. The research of Florencia 
Pena (1989) for Mexico supports this, stating that for every factory worker there 
are at least three homeworkers. Violeta Sara-Lafosse (1985) estimates that, for 
Peru, approximately 80 percent of workers in the garment industry are hidden 
in their homes. 


The main characteristics of subcontracting include the supplying of raw 
material to the producers (who remain in their houses) by agents who 
afterwards collect the finished goods and pay the producers their wages on a 
piece rate basis. Although this system has existed since garment production 
began in the late 1920's in Risaralda, the new element is the extreme 
horizontal and vertical division of labor, reorganizing women's work on what 
has been called "an invisible assembly hne" (Mies 1982). By the horizontal 
division of labor, I refer to the fact that the labor of these homeworkers is 
appropriated by middlemen and larger factory owners in such a manner that 
the women are isolated in their homes, isolated not only from factory 
production, but also from other women who produce the same garment. This 
isolation reinforces the women's vulnerability and prohibits the formation of 
solidarity and class consciousness. 

The assembly line created by subcontracting work is called invisible 
because the women workers do not see how it operates. Only the middle men 
(who, as previously mentioned, are men) or factory owners (also generally 
men) know how the putting-out system functions, and who performs which 
operations. The knowledge of how to make an entire garment is often 
unavailable to these women. In addition, the subcontracted industrial 
outworkers do not know for which exporters agents work, they do not know 
anything about the agents' margin of profit, and in many cases they don't even 
know the names of the agents. Although the homeworkers see and talk with 
the agents, they don't understand the relationship between agents and the 
factory. To the extent that the women never know how the entire garment is 
produced, or what their relationship with the intermediary means, they do not 
totally understand the process of production. 


Subcontracting as Art iculation Between Formal and Informal Sectors 

Small-scale enterprises rely on family labor and local resources, low 
capital investment, labor intensive technology, high competition, ease of 
entry, utilization of an unskilled work force, and acquisition of skills outside 
of the formal educational system. In this research, subcontracted 
microenterprises fall within the sector of economic activity that is generally 
not registered with government agencies, is unrepresented by official statistics, 
and does not comply with regulations governing labor practices, taxes, and 
licensing. These 'informal sector' activities are informal in terms of their 
internal organizational structure, and in terms of their relationships with the 
social structure which surrounds them (Sethuraman 1976). Of the 
subcontracted industrial outworkers interviewed in this study, fewer than five 
percent signed any type of written contract with an intermediary (because there 
were generally no formal contracts with the intermediaries). 

In all cases, the articulation is part of a highly integrated system 
of production segmented into different levels and of an overall 
process of accumulation that encompasses all of the levels. In 
this sense the conceptualization of formal, informal dichotomy 
is not appropriate insofar as the two sectors are viewed as 
separate and independent of each other. (Beneria and Roldan- 

In the informal sector, production fluctuates greatly. Because informal 
sector business operators have little access to capital, they often must stop 
production when they run out of the raw materials needed for production. In 
general, they cannot accumulate an inventory, or purchase the necessary 
technology or machinery that would enable them to secure their position in 


the market. They often depend on intermediaries to bring them work from 
factory owners. Their dependency may force them to take work at a lower pay 
rate, or for only a short period of time, with the hope that more steady work 
will become available for them in the future. 

In cases of horizontal subcontracting, this study encountered four 
methods of articulation between subcontracted industrial outworkers and the 
larger factory. Three of these are described by Beneria and Roldan (1987). 
Beneria and Roldan describe the first type of articulation, "direct articulation", 
as that in which a regular firm sends production to subcontracted industrial 
outworkers and small-scale enterprises without intermediaries. In the 
Colombian sample, this articulation was found among small-scale enterprises 
which have direct contact with the home-based producers. The second type is 
described as "mediated articulation". This takes place through an 
intermediary unit that establishes the connection between large and medium 
sized factories and subcontracted industrial outworkers. Generally no 
production occurs at the intermediary level, although the intermediary may 
distribute and transport the raw materials and gather the final products. The 
third type that they describe is "mixed articulation", where production is 
centered in a store that sells garments, but the production of garments is 
clandestine in the basement. 

A fourth type of articulation encountered in this Colombian study was 
seen predominantly in the large factories. This articulation demonstrates 
another way in which the labor force is expanded without direct contracts. 
This "unmediated articulation" involved using garment workers (of the 
factory) as intermediaries and also owners of small-scale enterprises in their 
homes. These workers performed garment work in the factory during low 
periods of demand, while during periods of high demand, they worked in 


their homes subcontracted by the large factory. The large factory provided 
them with training on how to deal with the employees in their small-scale 
enterprises and low-interest loans for buying machines. The workers 
themselves were the intermediaries in this case. In fact, this method of 
subcontracting was the only one encountered in the large factory because of 
problems with quality control. The women who are permitted to open their 
own small workshops (or what they call 'boutiques') work in quality control 
in the larger export factory. These women are hand-picked by factory 
management and given courses in the administration of micro-enterprises. 
These women start their own microenterprise during peak production. 
When the demand for garments slackens, workers in the small-scale 
enterprises are let go, but the women administering the small-scale 
enterprises retain their positions in quality control in the larger factory. 

Intermediaries as Agents of Articulation 

The intermediaries play a key role in establishing the relationship 
between the factory and the subcontracted industrial outworkers (or small- 
scale enterprise). This research encountered three types of intermediaries: 
those who were only involved in distributing cut cloth to producers and 
returning the final product to the factory; those who bought the cloth, 
distributed it to be cut, and then redistributed it for sewing; and those who 
distributed part of the cut cloth which they had received to other subcontracted 
industrial outworkers, and performed part of the production process in their 
homes. In this case, access to, and control of, raw materials plays a significant 
role in determining the autonomy of the intermediaries. Those 


intermediaries who bought, as well as distributed, the cloth were more 
autonomous than those who only distributed the cloth, although the capital to 
buy the cloth generally (though not always) came from the owner of the store 
where the final product was sold. In all cases, the intermediaries were 
employed in only the small- and medium- sized factories. The larger factory 
had individuals who managed the small-scale enterprises, who were 
employees of the factory. In this way, the factory owners were able to expand 
production and maintain considerable control of the labor force. 

The relationship between the factory owner and the intermediary also 
varies between the types of larger enterprises which subcontract. On the one 
hand, a factory owner may organize the work within the factory and also be 
responsible for distributing work to intermediaries and subcontracted 
industrial outworkers. On the other hand, a factory owner may only provide a 
point to sell the finished goods, giving the intermediary the responsibility for 
organizing the production process and distributing the work to the 
subcontracted industrial outworkers and micro-enterprises. 

The relationship between the factory owner and intermediary 
determines the control which the intermediary exercises over the process of 
production. Those owners who allow the intermediaries to distribute cloth 
and pick up the finished product (providing only the store front for selling) 
maintain much less control over the process than those who design the 
garment, cut the fabric, and finish it in their centralized shop. By maintaining 
this control, these owners are able to pay lower prices to home-based workers 
(because the workers perform fewer tasks), charge higher prices for the 
finished product, and maintain a larger profit by accumulating more of the 
surplus generated by subcontracting out the production. 


The relationship between the intermediary and the subcontracted 
industrial outworker is also constrained by the relationship of the 
intermediary to the larger factory owner. The control which the intermediary 
exercises over the process of production further determines, in large part, the 
degree of control available for the subcontracted industrial outworkers to 
exercise over this process, and the degree to which the subcontracted industrial 
outworker is subordinated or autonomous. For example, the subcontracted 
industrial outworker who received whole cloth had more autonomy than 
those who received the cloth pre-cut. The knowledge and ability to cut and 
design a garment gave the subcontracted industrial outworkers more control 
over the process of production. Those subcontracted industrial outworkers 
who exercise more control over the production process are more autonomous, 
and receive a higher pay rate for their products. The subcontracted industrial 
outworkers who received pre-cut material and performed only one operation 
(such as sewing on a pocket) maintained much less control over the 
production process. This analysis of control over the process of production is 
crucial to understanding the mechanisms which create and reproduce the 
subordinate position of women in the structure of production. 

In the process of interviewing the homeworkers, many problems which 
the women experienced with the intermediaries were articulated. Luz Maria, 
for example, had converted one of her rooms into a small sweatshop. When I 
entered for the interview, six machines whirred as young women worked 
furiously on the mountains of cut cloth which lay beside their machines. 
Luz's sister inspected the work and ironed the finished articles. As I spoke 
with Luz, the intermediary from factory G stopped by to pick up an order. Luz 
demanded payment for all the articles produced. She did good work, and the 
intermediary paid her for it. (Although I think that my presence there helped 


her obtain her due pay). Apparently, many intermediaries initially reject good 
quality production in order to later sell the same article themselves. In other 
words, Mr. X contracts Luz to make 50 blouses. Of those 50, he accepts 25, and 
pays her 400 pesos for each one. However, the other 25 are "no good", and 
either he sells them and keeps the profit, or she must sell them and reimburse 
him for the cost of the material which he can set as high as he pleases (though 
Luz said she usually paid 100 pesos for the 400 peso blouses). Often, the 
woman is stuck paying for the blouses from the pay which the intermediary 
gave her, until she can find a buyer for the other 25 blouses (which may have 
been rejected only because the factory owner didn't need all 50 blouses). The 
poorest women, especially burdened by this situation, know no one who can 
buy their excess production. 

After the intermediary left, Luz Maria explained to me that she was 
recently robbed by a different intermediary who never paid her, nor did he 
ever turn in the garments to the factory. He just disappeared with 8,000 pesos 
($200) worth of goods. The experience had understandably made her quite 
skeptical of intermediaries. 

Some intermediaries pay for half of the goods when they buy them. 
They pay for the other half two weeks later. Several subcontracted industrial 
outworkers interviewed never received the second payment for their work. In 
the interim, they had not been able to pay the bills, and their electricity had 
been turned off. This prohibited them from continuing garment production. 
One home-based producer who had problems with payments from the factory 
had been working in her home since 1983 and always bought the thread. 
Although she had made 140 pesos per shirt (in 1983 when she started, she only 
earned 50), she found it very difficult to make ends meet. 


Elsa, one of the poorest home-based producers, placed pockets on shirts 
and earned 15 pesos per pocket. Elsa had 3 children, and her husband worked 
as a cobbler. Her meager income assisted the household's difficult economic 
situation. Elsa could put 10 pockets on in an hour, and she stated that she 
worked an average of 6 hours a day. Her average income was 900 pesos daily 
(about U.S. $2.00). The minimum wage at this time was 25,500 bi-weekly 
(12,250 a week, or about 2,050 pesos daily which comes down to about U.S. 
$4.00 per day). The range of pay rates among subcontracted industrial 
outworkers varied significantly: shirts and blouses went from 100 to 400 pesos 
for the entire garment, and slacks were paid from 600 to 1500 pesos. 

In addition to the poor pay, the subcontracted industrial outworkers 
complained that the work was very irregular. Sometimes they would go for 
weeks or months without work. Often the quality of the cloth, buttons, or 
zippers they were given by the intermediaries was bad. The owners of the 
factory then complained to the subcontracted industrial outworkers about the 
quality of the finished product. Yet these women were not responsible for the 
quality of these inputs. 

These brief descriptions of the relationship of subcontracted industrial 
outworkers to intermediaries demonstrate mechanisms utilized by these 
intermediaries to maintain control over the subcontracted industrial 
outworkers. Levels of subcontracting are also important to consider in order 
to understand the subordinate position of the subcontracted industrial 


Levels of Subcontracting 

There was a greater difference in the levels of subcontracting in the 
factory with national capital than in the factory with mixed (both national and 
foreign) capital. By levels of subcontracting, I refer to the number of times the 
same item is contracted out. For example, a large factory could contract to a 
smaller factory work on a specific garment. This factory in turn could contract 
work to a micro-enterprise, which could in turn contract work to women in 
their homes. In this type of contracting, four levels of subcontracting were 
encountered, however, it is anticipated that more exist^. Due to the illegal 
nature of the work (non-contractual, piece work pay, performed in 
unregistered micro-enterprises or homes) and poor working conditions under 
which subcontracted industrial outwork is carried out, it was often difficult to 
locate and talk with women who work at the lowest end of the chain. 

The factory with multinational capital is able to cut labor costs without 
subcontracting. This factory demonstrated less of a tendency to contract out in 
a chain-like fashion. The quality control in the factory with mixed capital was 
so strict that many homeworkers refused to work for the factory. Instead of 
subcontracting homework to individuals in their homes, this factory chose, 
more often, to pursue a policy of contracting temporary workers in the factory 
for a specific lot of garments. These workers' contracts were from 15 to 90 days. 
Through this method of contracting arrangements, the factory avoided paying 
social security or any other benefit to the worker. If workers are contracted for 
more than 90 days, then the factory is obliged to pay these social costs for the 

iBeneria and Roldan found several more levels of subcontracting in their 
study of Mexico (1987). 


workers. The factory with national capital was not as concerned with strict 
quality controls, therefore, they were more likely to subcontract outside of the 
factory in the chain-like fashion previously described. 

Subcontracting and S ubordination in the Garment Industry 

This discussion of subcontracting as it creates and reproduces 
subordinate relationship within the garment industry will consider (in 
addition to differential payment for work) the workers' access to and control of 
raw materials, and access to and control of the markets. Within the sample of 
workers subcontracted outside the factory, there is considerable variation in 
the price which they were paid for the article or piece of garment produced (the 
variation within this sample represents different levels of autonomy and 
subordination within these subcontracted workers). Although the 

international market (exports) was controlled by the multinational factory, 
factories with national capital had varying degrees of control over the national 
market. This control over the national market depended on the quality of the 
garment and the factory's ability to successfully market to a specific 'target' 
population (young children, work uniforms, men's shirts, women's executive 
dress, etc.). 

A comparison of the pay rate of the homeworkers with the pay rate of 
factory workers demonstrates how the rate varies considerably with the 
garment or part of the garment produced within the sample of subcontracted 
workers. In November of 1988 in Pereira, making a button hole paid 50 
centavos, which is one half of a peso, and in this period there were about 350 
pesos to the dollar. A good seamstress can do 70 buttonholes in an hour, which 


means she can earn 35 pesos an hour. That would not even pay for a soda for 
her lunch. Another home-worker was paid three pesos for both doing a button 
hole and placing the button. Finishing off a shirt paid 10 pesos, finishing off a 
pair of pants paid 12, putting a collar on a shirt paid 8 pesos, inspecting the 
article before packing it paid 5 pesos. Some women were able to earn 4,000 
pesos weekly, though most made only 2-3,000. When considering that the 
minimum wage for factory workers was 25,500 biweekly, the considerable 
differences in the pay between factory workers, and subcontracted industrial 
outworkers becomes evident^. In most cases, the women who worked at 
home also bought the thread and paid for the electricity which the production 

It is important to note that thread cost 100 pesos per small spool. To 
complete an entire shirt (long sleeved adult) at least 2 spools of thread were 
needed. Many of these subcontracted industrial outworkers were only making 
170-200 pesos per shirt in the period of low demand, waiting for higher shirt 
prices in the season of high demand (up to 400 pesos per shirt). Therefore, 
during the times of low demand these households relied even more heavily 
on the income generation of family members other than the subcontracted 
industrial outworker. 

^Although factory workers were entitled to receive the minimum wage, often 
their pay was less, and the regulations for paying overtime and holidays was 
insufficient. These problems with the factory will be discussed in more detail 
in Chapter 5. 


Access and Control of Markets 

Export production (by factories with mixed capital) in this region 
provides these enterprises with access to, and control of, a wider market, and 
consequently to the raw materials significant in the production of garments. 
The factories with national capital were generally denied access to export 
markets (unless they export indirectly through the Plan Vallejo, 
subcontracting from a factory with mixed capital). They were forced to 
compete fiercely for local and regional markets. This competition, in turn, 
forced factories to hire cheaper labor (driving labor costs down). In order to 
maintain specific markets, these factories produced quality items at the lowest 
prices. In this case, the existence of small micro-enterprises which can be 
integrated or expelled from the production process with little risk were 
convenient for the medium- and large-sized factories. Their limited access to 
the export market was generally through subcontracted arrangements with 
larger factories. However, in some instances, the small factories are able to 
establish their own garment line, and attempt more autonomous production 
for local or regional markets. In general, large factories have had to focus their 
production on standardized articles, while smaller enterprises have produced 
for a specific sex, age-group or socioeconomic strata (Schmukler 1977). The 
availability of subcontracting to small and medium-sized enterprises which 
may specialize in a specific type of garment allows the larger factory greater 
control of the market. 

A significant variable affecting the factories' access to and control of the 
market for garments is its capital composition. For example, factories which 


utilize only national capital had access to a smaller market, and less control of 
the market than factories with multinational capital. Control of the market is 
attributed to a variety of factors, some of which are related to the patterns of 
regional industrialization (as discussed in chapter three). 

Another significant factor affecting the factories' access to the market is 
their size. The vulnerability of the small-scale, home-based producers, and 
their subordinate position in the production process, is related to fluctuations 
characteristic of the garment industry. These fluctuations strongly impede the 
ability of the subcontracted enterprises to consistently maintain their 
autonomous position in the market because they are unable to maintain 
profits in the off season. According to Schmukler (1977) variations in the 
process of production (which affect most strongly the medium and small-sized 
garment factories) include: cyclical fluctuations of the market related to state 
poHcy and macro-economic development (such as the changing structure of 
demand due to impact of low-income sectors on garment markets), periodic 
changes in style, and special needs of holiday seasons . 

Access and Control of Raw Materials 

Access to, and control of, raw materials is also a significant factor 
affecting the subordinate position of homebased producers. The subcontracted 
industrial outworkers' access to, and control of, raw materials is often 
mediated by intermediaries. In the case of the export factory with mixed 
capital, the raw material for these garments is imported (already cut) from 
Miami. The only factory which has access to this material is the large export 
factory, which can then subcontract to smaller factories which receive all the 
raw materials (including thread) from the large export factory. The control 


over the quality of the raw materials and its cutting rests entirely with the 
company in Miami which carefully selects its sister plants in foreign countries. 
An official from "Pro-Expo" (the governmental agency regulating 
exportation) in Pereira stated that the garment industry had been damaged by 
the recession in the United States and other industrialized countries, the high 
cost of raw materials, and the protection of the industries in the developed, 
industrialized nations. He stated that the capacity of the city to meet the 
demand for exports would be increased if other factories would begin 
production utilizing "Plan Vallejo"^ The system of subcontracted production 
limits substantially what the subcontracted industrial outworker can control 
with respect to the quality of the product, the quantity of items produced, and 
the time within which they are completed. However, it gives them the 
possibility to organize their own technical process of production with respect 
to the stages and style of the work. It also permits them to have control of the 
intensity of their own work and make decisions with respect to the inclusion 
or not of family workers. Nevertheless, the lack of control of the raw 
materials imposes important limitations to the control of the working process. 

Relationships within the Subcontracted Enterprise 

In order to understand the complexities of the subcontracting 
relationship, it is important to distinguish between home-based producers and 
small-scale enterprises (which may be based on familial or non-familial 
workers). Subcontracted industrial outworkers in this study refer to workers 

^Plan Vallejo is one of the more important instruments regulating the promotion of exports in 
Colombia. Also known as decree 444 of 1967, it was designed by the minister of development, 
Dr. Jose Joaquin Vallejo. This decree establishes conditions under which the exporter can 
import raw materials, intermediate goods, and capital goods free of taxes if they are used 
solely for the production of goods for exports and will increase the dividends accrued to the 
region for exporting. 


who work in their home (this may appear to be redundant, but as will be seen 
in the analysis the physical location of the work is important), and have few 
resources and little access to additional labor outside female family members 
(in other words, the women work alone or with one machine and the 
assistance of few family members). "Subcontracted industrial outworkers" in 
this sample did not hire additional (non-family) members. "Small-scale 
family-based enterprises" utilize the labor of more than one family member, 
have more than one machine, and may work in the home or in another 
location, although they seldom hire non-familial workers. "Small-scale 
enterprises" refer to those who work outside the home, have several 
machines (at least three) and may contract (non-family) workers. Although 
there is much variety within the category of small-scale enterprise, for 
purposes of this research units employing from 1 to 10 non-familial workers 
are considered small-scale enterprises because the social relations of 
production which characterize them are similar (see figure 4.2). 

The social relationships within the subcontracted enterprise also have 
significant implications for labor force utilization and profit generation. It is 
easier for the home-based producer to "exploit" the labor of other family 
members, in the sense that family members work for free. Small-scale 
enterprises must remunerate the employees' labor, regardless of the low salary 
which they pay them. Subcontracted small-scale enterprises who are registered 
with the chamber of commerce must pay their workers minimum wage, and 
register them with the social security. For this reason, factories often prefer 
subcontracting individual outworkers instead of small-scale enterprises when 
the price of the finished product is a major consideration. If the quality of the 
garment is more important, then small-scale enterprises may be preferred, 
even though it may require additional costs. 


(1) Subcontracted Industrial Outworkers 

-takes place in the workers' home 
-do not hire additional non-family members 
-often rely on female family members for assistance 
-use only 1 machine 

(2) Small-scale Enterprises (Family Based) 

-takes place in workers' home 

-seldom hire additional non-family members 

-rely on family members (female usually) for assistance 

-use more than 1 machine 

(3) Small-scale Enterprises (Non-Familial) 

-takes place outside workers' home 

-usually hire additional non-family members 

-use more than 3 machines 

-may contract out to subcontracted industrial outworkers 

Figure 4.2 
Types of Subcontracted Units 

The success with which subcontracted industrial outworkers convert 
their earnings into profit and their homes into small-scale enterprises depends 
on a variety of factors: (1) the capital which is available for purchase of raw 
materials, (2) number and type of machines which are owned, (3) previous 
experience or knowledge of the process of production (i.e. those who have 
additional skills such as designing, cutting, sewing of various articles, and 
ironing can negotiate a better rate for the items that they produce than can 
individuals with limited knowledge of the production process), (4) family 
members who work in the subcontracted enterprise for little or no 


remuneration, and (5) access to a market to sell their own product (in addition 
to working subcontracted to the larger factories). 

By far, the majority (over 70%) of home based workers only own one 
machine. However, several workers (those who were able to demand a higher 
price for their finished product) demonstrated a surprisingly advanced level of 
technification owning over 4 machines of various types. These individuals 
had left factory work when they had children, or the factory closed down 
because of decreased demand for the product. Because of their experience in 
the factory, these workers were more familiar with the entire production 
process, and more able to more effectively organize their own 
microenterprises than workers who had never worked in a factory. 

With the development of subcontracted industrial outwork the 
possibility of control of the complete production process by one individual 
decreases. In Pereira, for example, changes in the relationship between the 
subcontracted industrial outworkers and the intermediary which occurred 
with the industrial development of garments in the region have led to 
increasing subordination of these home-based producers and small-scale 
enterprises. Prior to regional industrialization, the relationship of the 
subcontracted industrial outworkers with the factory was more direct (as 
described briefly in Chapter Three). The subcontracted industrial outworkers 
commonly completed the entire garment. However, now the home-based 
producer more commonly controls only a part of the entire process. 



This chapter analyzed the structure of production within the garment 
industry as it conditions women's labor force participation. Subcontracting 
was considered as it fragments and decentralizes production creating a 
hierarchy of better-paid, more secure jobs in the factory, which contrast with 
low-paying, home-based production. The linkages created by the process of 
subcontracting created and reproduced subordinate hierarchical social 
relationships in the garment industry. A discussion of the variety of linkages 
(intermediaries who obtain home-based workers for the factory who are 
external to factory, factory workers who serve as intermediaries, or no 
intermediaries) utilized to link subcontracted producers to different types of 
enterprises (subcontracted industrial outworkers, family small-scale 
enterprises, and non-familial, small-scale enterprises) emphasized the 
autonomy and/or subordination of the producer in relation to the larger 
capitalist factories. 

The role of intermediaries, their characteristics, and the control which 
they exercise over subcontracted producers' access to, and control of, key 
resources was discussed. The description of relationships between the 
subcontracted factory and the large capitalist enterprise (demonstrated in the 
characteristics of intermediaries, prices paid for products, and access to and 
control of raw materials and markets), as well as the myriad of relationships 
described within the small subcontracted enterprises demonstrate the 
significance of subcontracting as a mechanism for reproduction of subordinate 
relationships within the garment industry. This chapter has demonstrated 


how changes in the structure of production at the regional and local level in 
the garment industry affect women's labor force incorporation. Because of the 
position which the subcontracted units occupy in the production process, 
women's incorporation into subcontracted industrial outwork is generally 
subordinated to factory work. 

The process of subcontracting, though not new in the garment industry, 
is undergoing transformations. These transformations involve the more 
efficient appropriation of labor, decreasing home-based worker's control of the 
production process. The changing nature of the linkages between the factory 
and home-based work within the garment industry, and the differing 
strategies of national and international industrialists to appropriate labor in 
Pereira, should not be viewed as unique cases, but rather should be understood 
as examples of a more generalized practice resulting from ever-increasing 
demands for cheaper labor by national and international capitalists. 

The next chapter considers the organization of production within a 
shirt factory. Working conditions in the factory are discussed, emphasizing 
mechanisms of control exercised by management, and strategies for 
organization and resistance to management's control by workers. This 
chapter emphasizes how changes in the organization of production have 
affected working conditions and women's labor force incorporation in this 



The strongest phrase that I have heard in my 
life is from a young girl who told me, "Working 
in the factory is worse than working as a 
prostitute.". . . this is another type of 
exploitation, that one has to produce so much, 
and one has to work rapidly, very rapidly, and 
one has to be perfect. . . they earn less working 
in the factory than working in the bar. . . After 
making the effort to learn a skill, the women 
find this type of exploitation. 
Interview with Sister Elena who runs a 
workshop teaching women to sew. 

This chapter considers the material conditions of production in the 
garment industry emphasizing the organization of production, and 
technology and machinery utilized in a factory which produces for export. 
The chapter begins with a description of the technical organization of 
production in the shirt making industry. A description of working 
conditions is provided by excerpts from worker interviews. Next, working 
conditions in the factory are discussed, emphasizing mechanisms of control 
exercised by management over the workers. Strategies for organization and 
resistance to management's control follow. The chapter ends with a 
discussion of how changes in the organization of the production process in 
the factory have affected the working conditions, focusing on the effect of 



changes in the material conditions of production on the social relations 
within the factory. 

Material Relati ons of Production within the Factory 

Work in the large factory is divided into what are called "talleres" or 
workshops which vary from 30 to 70 people. Each workshop is responsible 
for a specific type of garment (shirt, slacks, skirts, etc.) Because Pereira is best 
known as the shirt city (la ciudad camisera), this description focuses on the 
factory system for making shirts. Within the workshop, a "patinador" first 
I hands the assignment to the head of the workshop, who in turn divides the 

work among the quality control supervisors. In a large shirt-making "taller" 
there could be two or three supervisors. Each supervisor is responsible for 
two or three parts of the production process. Conflict between quality control 
supervisors and the heads of the workshop is described in the following 
interview with Maria, a quality control supervisor. 

The head of the workshop is the one who rules in the 
"taller", but the supervisor is the one who works the 
most. The heads of the workshop only know about 
meeting production quotas. They are technologists. I had 
to organize the production in the group. . . .and I earned 
less. I earned my bonuses according to the number of 
items we turned around. But the bonuses were never 
much, they were never more than 1,900 pesos weekly. 
The leader of the workshop earned all of the production 
merits. They are shameless. (Personal interview Februarv 
23, 1989). ^ 

I In the shirt making process observed, there were six major parts to the 

J production process. These parts are further broken down again into three or 

, four separate activities within each workshop. There is a station at the 


beginning of each "taller" where the pieces are ironed, and marked to be sure 
they were cut properly in Miami. For example, the shirt making process 
begins with the collar. The first operator takes the ironed halves and sews 
them shut. The next operator clips the points; the collar is checked for 
symmetry and turned rightside out. The article is then returned for pressing. 
Next, the collar is overstitched, making sure that both sides match. This 
process involves three operators and a woman to press the collar. 

The next section is the back. First, an operator hems both sides. 
Another operator will match the sides and stitch them together. (That is if 
the back is in two pieces; often it comes in one piece.) Depending on the 
complexity of the item, two to five operators will complete the required 
darts, beltloops, or other ornamentation. Another operator will sew the sides 
together if required. Usually during this phase, another individual places 
the label on the back garment. 

Next, an operator hems the front from right to left always. The pockets 
are hemmed by another operator, and sewn on the shirt by a third. Other 
darts are sewn in place by a fourth operator, the buttonholes are inserted by a 
fifth, and a sixth operator sews buttons on the garments. The next process is 
the sleeve. First the sleeve is fastened together by one operator. Another 
operator then attaches the sleeve to the armhole. If it is a short sleeve, it is 
hemmed by another individual. If it is a long-sleeved garment, the cuffs are 
first completed. For the cuffs, one individual sews the lining. Then the 
corners are clipped and sewn shut by another operator. The cuff is turned 
right side out, then pressed by the operator at the "taller" who does the 
ironing. Only after pressing is the overstitching applied. Finally the cuff is 
placed on the sleeve by yet another operator. The article is inspected, threads 
clipped, buttonholes checked for accuracy, etc. by another woman before the 


article is considered completed. The articles are then inspected again by the 
quality supervisors, and another tag may be placed on the sleeve. The 
articles are pressed one final time (outside of the workshop). There is a 
section which does only ironing, and another section which packs the articles 
in plastic before they are ready to be exported. 

Twenty five to 30 operators, one or two supervisors, and a 
"technologist" who controls the production are involved in the workshop 
described above which makes shirts. There is an average of one mechanic 
for every five "talleres" in the factory. "Talleres" which make pants are the 
most difficult according to most of the workers. These may require up to 60 
operators for the different tasks. 

Working Conditi ons of Women 

Although working conditions in this factory (from here on referred to 
as Factory N) were much better than those conditions encountered in other 
factories (re: lighting, space for work, and ventilation), many violations of 
the Colombian labor code were discovered through worker interviews. Two 
of the major demands expressed by women in the interviews were (1) 
fulfillment of article 238 of Colombian labor code: allowing women with 
infants 30 minutes of lactation during the work day and (2) fulfillment of 
article 239 of the Colombian labor code allowing women 12 weeks of 
maternity leave. Article 237 of the Colombian labor code gives women the 
right to two to four weeks paid leave in the case of miscarriage. The reality of 
the factory, however, does not reflect the gains made by women in labor 


My research assistant recounted the following story from one of her 

One of the woman I interviewed became pregnant while she was 
working in the factory. She was the one who handed out the 
cloth, but it wasn't easy for her to be on her feet all day because of 
her health. So they changed her to the inspection section, but 
now, as punishment for becoming pregnant, they said that they 
were going to make her iron. She told her supervisor that she 
couldn't because she had bad legs, and she had asthma (she 
couldn't even iron in her home), but her supervisor told her 
that if she couldn't iron, then she couldn't work in the factory, 
and she would have to leave. 

According to Colombian law, women are allowed 12 weeks leave for 
pregnancy. However, usually women who become pregnant in garment 
factories are fired directly or indirectly. 

When I was in the factory, I knew women who had to sell their 
body at times to maintain their position. I know specifically of 
one case, a mechanic who got a young woman in the design 
section pregnant. He was married, and the factory arranged for 
him to be sent to the United States so that he wouldn't have to 
be responsible for the baby, because he was a good mechanic. . . 
The girl was later moved to the ironing section of the factory. 
Subsequently she resigned. I don't think that was done properly. 
So that his wife didn't find out, they sent him to the United 
States. (Personal Interview with Lucia, quality control 

In 1988 this factory won the governor's medal for the most earnings accrued 
in non-traditional (non coffee) exports in the fiscal year. However, a local 
women's group produced a pamphlet to observe November 28^. which 

^On November 28, feminists commemorate a violent rape and murder of 
three sisters which occurred in the Dominican Republic in 1986, and 
denounce violence against women (see appendice 4 for a copy of the 


accused the factory of serious violation of human rights. Instead of being 
awarded the medal for exportation, these women insisted, the factory should 
be awarded a medal for exploitation. 

Mechanisms of Control in the Factory 

Having described the material organization of production in the factory, 
we now move to a consideration of the ways in which this production is 
controlled by management. There are many mechanisms of control 
employed by management throughout the production process. A 
computerized sheet near the personnel manager's office shows which 
"talleres" are producing most, which are keeping up with their production 
quotas, and which are falling behind. Secondly, a blackboard at the end of the 
workshop charts the production that each workshop should be completing 
during the hour. Beside each hour is a light bulb. If the bulb is yellow, then 
the hourly production quotas are being met. If the lightbulb is red, then the 
hourly production quotas for that hour have not been met. This blackboard is 
filled in by a technologist who is constantly inspecting production in the 
'workshop'. Technologists are men as well as women. In fact, there were 
more women technologists than men when I observed the production. 
Another point of control is the quality control card filled in by the supervisor 
for each worker. This card documents the article which the worker was 
producing, the quota of their production for the day, the number of articles 
produced, and how many of these articles where completed satisfactorily. 
According to interviews with Lucia, a quality control supervisor: 


Every day they give one a schedule with a list of your production 
quotas, and every afternoon they check your work. . . The 
supervisor reviews the work. . . and she is also generally the one 
who studies the time it takes to complete tasks. . . 

I had to check the work of everyone in the workshops. I had to 
pass by each machine 2, 3, or 4 times to review the work of each 
operator. At the end in inspection they look to see if the work is 
going well, what flaws there are, etc. For example, if I have to 
check the work of one woman. . . many don't like to have their 
work returned. . . but if I don't return it to her it's a problem for 
me. I can't let anything bad pass . . . when work is done poorly it 
has to be fixed. 

Perhaps the most significant mechanism of control is the time and 
motion studies. This measurement of time taken to perform each task is 
done by a technologist. A union leader in Risaralda called this measurement 
strategy a type of "slavery". He states: 

From seven in the morning, they begin to take a type of count. 
The engineers call this time and motion studies, to find out how 
much each worker produces in an hour. It is a human 
chronometer. So if the person produces, or rather if they are able 
to complete the same production during the entire day, and 
during the entire week, then they are given a type of bonus as an 
incentive. . . However, this is something which sucks the life out 
of the women, it finishes them off both physically and mentally. 
. . It's not the same to produce at seven in the morning when 
one has the mind clear and rested as it is to produce in the 
afternoon hours when fatigue sets in. . . this is a type of slavery. 
(Personal Interview with male union official. May 25, 1989) 

These points of control demonstrate the hierarchy which exists within 

the factory. In order to become a supervisor, one had to either enter the 

factory with very good recommendations (preferably from the SENA) or earn 

supervisory status through consistently exceeding production quotas. If an 

operator worked extremely well, she could first become a "supernumeraria" 

which did not increase her salary but which permitted her to be eligible for 


nomination for a position as a quality control supervisor by a current 
supervisor, technologist, or workshop head. 

Ana, a quality control supervisor, was directly hired into that position: 

I went to factory X after separating from my husband, to ask for 
work. In factory X, I filled out the papers, they asked me what 
experience I had, and they interviewed me. I was 25 years old 
when I began to work. They asked me what I had studied after 
elementary school, what I currently did for a living, and 
according to the interview, they decided what work I would 
receive. According to my abilities, they told me that I would 
enter as a quality control supervisor, (personal interview 
November 1988) 

However, Ana was soon disillusioned by her work in the factory. She 
began to demand that they pay her a fair salary. According to the Colombian 
labor code, the night shift is paid 1.35 percent of the pay of the day shifts, work 
on a Sunday is paid double, and work on a holiday is paid triple. Ana recounts 
the following story of her difficulty receiving proper remuneration for her 

I understood these accounts, more or less. So I counted up my 
salary, and of course found out that they were robbing me quite a 
bit. Most recently I worked 10 months and earned 25 thousand 
pesos, including bonuses and extra hours. When I retired they 
gave me 33 thousand pesos. This is really very little for all that I 
worked, and all that I contributed to the workshop. One of the 
reasons I retired is because they began a night shift from 2:30 in 
the afternoon till 10:45 at night, and they did not recognize the 
extra pay for working the night shift. My ex-husband worked in 
administration, and he taught me all these things. He told me 
they were robbing me. Once I worked two night shifts, and they 
paid us so bad that we didn't even earn 8,000 pesos for the week. 
The night shift should pay something like 35% extra. I added up 
the accounts, so many days, so many extra hours, and so many 
nights, and I told the girls who worked for me that they should 
claim their proper pay. I told them that if they were asked who 
added up the accounts, it was me, because I wanted them to fire 
me. But the girls appreciated the work I did, and no one told 


them that I had added up the accounts and told them to claim 
their pay. So they fired all of those who went to claim their pay. 
They paid them what they were due, but they fired them all. 
They were fired for claiming 20 thousand pesos in one month. 

Ana eventually retired from the factory. She was a good worker valued 
highly by the factory. She commanded the respect of co-workers and 
maintained production quotas. 

However, the main reason for my retiring was because my child 
was extremely sick. One day I went to organize the work in the 
factory to resolve the production problems. The quality control 
supervisor has to organize the workers, the operations, etc. 
Then I said to the personnel director that I needed her to do me a 
favor and grant me permission to take my child to the doctor. . . I 
thought that they would give me permission. I was sure of it. I 
never skipped work. But she told me no, I am sorry, but I can't 
give you permission. We have to finish this lot. But I told her 
that we were ahead on production, that there were two other 
supervisors, but the lot was a very large one, and pants which 
are more difficult. So I had to make sure that everything was 
going well. She told me that I couldn't go. . . I started to think, I 
don't earn much, I don't really have any responsibility, I haven't 
done anything to earn this poor treatment. I am not going to 
return because they exploit you very badly (personal interview 
October 1988). . . 

In addition to inadequate payment for work, many operators complained 
about the type of contracts which they signed. Workers were required, by law, 
to give 30 days notice before quitting their job. These 30 days, however, were 
seldom paid by the factory. In another interview with Ana, she recounted 
several claims made in the factory for the type of contracts which were signed. 

In the beginning, they hired the personnel in January and they 
stayed until December. However, later they made one sign a 
paper giving one leave, and they didn't pay you anything. In 
other words, I would sign the paper, as if I had asked for time off 
without pay. Of course because of this we made a claim at the 
Ministry of Labor. But everything was done legally. And after 


this, they began to have the workers who had signed contracts 
for a year or more, sign new contracts for a specific article of 
clothing. When a lot arrived, everyone had to sign the new 
contract. Those who didn't want to sign it were fired. This 
contract cancelled the previous contract that they had signed. 
But this was illegal, because the contracts for more than one year 
cannot be annulled. In other words, if the lot took eight days to 
complete, one had work for eight days (personal interview 
October 1988). 

After hearing several similar complaints from workers during interviews. 
Ana and I went to the Ministry of Labor to see how the cases brought by the 
workers against the factory were being handled. It had been several months 
since Ana had quit and the workers had heard nothing about the cases. When 
we arrived at the Ministry of Labor we were received by a woman who sent us 
to another set of lawyers who were working on the case. We waited over 30 
minutes in the hall for these lawyers to return from a case, and when they 
didn't we were sent to another room to speak with their assistants. After 
waiting another 20 minutes, we were received by an assistant. However, they 
had not received any complaints from the specific factory in question. They 
related problems with garment factories (with only local capital), but they had 
heard nothing of the case to which we referred. We continued waiting for the 
other lawyers. Ana remembered the name of the woman (Ministry of Labor 
employee) who had been at the factory. However, when the woman returned, 
she was unable to give us any information about this case. There was nothing 
we could do. Since the factory had no union, there was no one to continue the 
investigation of the case and pressure the Labor Ministry to make some 
changes in the factory. 

And another thing... if one wanted to quit working in the 
factory, for any reason, they immediately ended the contract that 
one had signed, and the 30 days which they had been advised 
weren't paid. . . I'm telling you that these contracts for only one 


article are very weak. Where one would follow up on these 
contracts one would find things are not good... 

Forms of Resistance within the Garment Industry and Factory N 

Given the number of complaints expressed in worker interviews, 
surprisingly little organization was found within the garment industry. A 
brief review of the stormy relationship between management and unions 
provide clues to the contemporary phobia towards unionization by both 
workers and management. 

In Risaralda, there has been permanent harrassment of 
union members by factory owners. Harrassment which has 
consisted in sanctions, generally unjust: such as firing. Often 
women who occupy directive positions in the union 
organizations are tempted (by the company) to occupy positions 
within administration, for example, positions such as head of 
personnel. This is generally done in order to make them 
denounce the union, in order to weaken it and finally end it. 
This occurred in two factories in this region. In Factory F, they 
weakened the union to such a point that at the end, they called 
the few women who still belonged to the union, and paid them 
off with promises that they would give them a certain amount 
of money if they renounced both the union and the factory. . . 
This has been a very difficult struggle. The factory owners have 
been able to eliminate unions. Factory V still has a union, but 
for all intents and purposes. Factory V is controlled by Factory N. 
(interview with male union official May 1989) 

In order to weaken the unions, the owners of the garment factories attempted 
to pay off the workers. 

They began to fire workers, and pay them off. . . because the law 
states that if a worker is fired without a just cause, they must be 
paid a specific amount of money, which consists of 45 days pay if 
they have been there one year or less, if they have been 
employed in the factory five years, they pay them 15 additional 
days, if they have been in the factory from five to 10 years, they 


pay them an additional 20 days (in addition to the 45 days), and if 
they have more than 10 years with the factory, they pay them an 
additional 30 days. Then, the factory must spend a lot of money 
in this, but they get rid of the leaders, of the dynamic individuals 
in the unions. Then, when they have weakened the union, they 
buy off the directors and the union is wiped out. This is a tactic 
which they have used in the last few years. This has made it 
almost impossible to organize people. (Interview with male 
union official May 1989). 

Although there was one union in all of the garment factories in the 
region, this union had been very "patronal". In other words, the union had 
not been independent of management, but rather complied with 
management's orders. For example, in 1983 the workers' vacation time was 
denied to allow the factory to meet production deadlines. The workers' were 
not reimbursed, nor were they given vacation at a later date. The union did 
not fight for the workers' additional pay, nor their vacation time. Rather they 
complied with the desires of management, in order to keep the factory 
running smoothly. Only in the last three years had the union in this factory 
changed the president, and in 1987 they affiliated with the CUT (making them 
less patronal). The CUT for example, prohibited any union officials from 
taking higher wages, or new positions offered by the management because 
this had traditionally been a strategy of management to "buy off" the workers. 

Unions had played a crucial role at one point, in defending garment 
workers in the region. In an interview with the local president of the CUT, 
he told how the workers of factory G resisted managements attempts to 
remove the factory and its machinery. According to union officials in the 
town, factory N discussed above was constructed on the same site as factory 
G, using the same buildings with the same stock holders. 

During this time (the 1970s) the owner of the factory was killed 
in some family feud. This had repercussions for the workers. 
Those who managed the factory intended to remove the 


enterprise overnight. They had contracted vehicles to transport 
the machinery to Medellin, but we (the union) took over the 
enterprise overnight. A night watchman told us of their plans. 
We took over the enterprise and set up a tent, and maintained 
the struggle for approximately five months. We were about 77 
workers. After we took over the enterprise, there we also cooked 
our food. There is a supermarket there now. We demanded the 
machinery from the factory, because the factory didn't even have 
five cents and had quite a few debts. We took this to a lawyer 
and this claim has lasted over five years.^ (Interview with union 

The conflictive relationship between workers and management in the region 
has led to a distrust of union organization not only by management, but also 
by other workers. 

In general, the workers who have been able to obtain work 
again don't want to hear about unions because this has brought 
them many problems. Those who have been able to locate new 
jobs are quiescent in these positions. It is practically a policy of 
terror utilized by the management to control workers. . . Here in 
garments, then, it has been almost impossible to organize a 
union because of the problem of persecution. The "patron" with 
the same system of the black list, where all are included, begins 
to marginalize all those who had participated in the union 
movement. . . the struggle here has been very difficult 
(interview with male union official. May 1988). 

Factories unable to pay the workers' salaries, and not being able to pay the 
indemnification required by law, dismantle the factory from one day to the 

The struggle in factory F was difficult because management had 
been able to weaken the organization by firing individuals who 
were especially charismatic in the union movement. In 
December of 1974, Factory F sent everyone home for Christmas 
vacations and they told them to return on a certain date in 
January. Then, when the women returned on the determined 
date, after having enjoyed their vacations at the end of the year, 
they found the factory closed and all alone. There was no 

2 At the time of the interview the case had not been settled. 


machinery or anything. Everything had been moved. Then, 
they found some notes that had been left with the guard for each 
one of them, telling them that if they wanted to work, they 
should go to a certain address in the Belen sector of Medellin, 
that the factory had been transferred there. Imagine that! a 
mother with a family, how is she going to move to Medellin. 
Nevertheless, there was an investigation with regard to this, and 
there was no factory at the address they had been given. All of 
this was a farce. The factory had fooled them. The workers 
wanted to demand their pay, but there was nothing. This has 
remained in the air. The women lost everything. . . 

There have been other factories, enterprise Q, where 30 workers 
had problems with the factory in 1980 and it disappeared... and 
many small factories. The only thing for certain is that the 
tradition here is to trick the worker. Especially in the small 
enterprises. ..although it also happens in the large ones. 

This has been the reality of the garment sector here. (Interview 
with CUT official May 1989) 

Aside from these tactics utilized to weaken unions within the garment 
factories, the decentralization of production further prevented the formation 
of unions. 

. . . there were three factories with different names, in different 
sites, where not more than 20 or 22 people were employed. This 
was done in order to keep the factory from having the 
minimum number required by the law for the founding a 
union. While in appearance this produced a type of 
disintegration of the factory, what really exists is only one 
factory, but in different locations. This prevents the workers 
from organizing. This is another tactic which the factory owners 
have utilized lately, to prevent union formation, (union official 
May 1989). 

A specific example cited by Ana, the quality control supervisor for Factory N, 
demonstrates how the owners continue to discourage worker organization. 

I attempted to start a union when I had this little group of 
women. In order to unionize you need 30 or at least 25 
persons according to the law. But in the factory they rotate 


the people considerably and it is difficult to form groups. 
For example, if you are the leader of this workshop, and I 
work in quality, within two months, I don't work here 
any more, but rather I am sent to another workshop. So I 
am sent to another workshop continually. . . it is difficult 
to really know the women you work with well when they 
are continually changing the workshops. (Interview # 8) 

Changes in Organization of Production in Factory N 

Increasing competition in the marketing of garments in both the 
national and international markets has led to changes in the organization of 
production. According to Lucia, a quality control supervisor: 

There are many changes occurring in the process of 
production, the style produced, even the personnel are being 
constantly changed. For example, each day new people come 
from the United States and other places, and they teach us that 
this shouldn't be done in such a way, that the production has to 
be changed, that it's not accepted in the old way... 

In addition to changing the organization of production within 
the factory, the quality of the final product, and the speed with 
which it is completed continue to be modified. 

Another worker stated her reaction to increased production pressures: 

I don't like all this pressure. There is always someone on top of 
you saying "hurry up." But I know what I have to do. One 
should be allowed to work according to one's conscience. One 
knows that a certain job must be finished by a specific time, and 
they know that you know this, but they still bother you 
continually about this saying "What's happening. What are you 
doing? We have to turn over this job at a specific time". Even 
when they know that the work will be finished on time. 

If one doesn't finish the job. . . What happened? Sometimes it is 
a very difficult operation, or the machine is damaged, or the 
cloth is bad or cut wrong in Florida, or the girl who is working 


on the other section isn't able to meet her quotas. All of this 
affects one's work. Every day they pressure us more. . . 

In addition to increased pressure to produce, the women mentioned 
changes in the organization of the material for production. 

Before, when I first started work (10 years ago) all production was 
done in a series. One person, for example hemmed and cuffed 
sleeves for the blouse production for the entire factory, another 
placed the collar, and another assembled the blouse. But now 
there is one workshop which does the blouse. Of course, now 
there is much better quality. 

The aforementioned changes in the organization of production facilitate the 
addition of new workshops to meet fluctuating production demands, as well 
as increasing management's control of the quality of production. 


This chapter has considered the material conditions of production in 
the garment industry emphasizing the organization of production in 
workshops as opposed to working in series. A description of the technical 
organization of production in the shirt making industry followed, 
demonstrating how industrial capitalism breaks down the process of 
production into numerous parts, each of which requiring a different skill, 
though not generally highly specialized. A description of working conditions 
was provided through excerpts from worker interviews. Mechanisms of 
control exercised by management over the workers described strategic points 
of conflict between operators and supervisors, and supervisors and 
technologists or workshop leaders. Strategies for organization and resistance 
to management's control were considered through the description of union 
activities in the region. Finally, changes in the organization of the 


production process in the factory were discussed as they affect the working 
conditions of the employees, focusing on the impact of changes in the 
material conditions of production on the social relations within the factory. 




"La vida es una lucha, tiene uno sus momentos 
buenos y todas maneras hay que 
luchar por los hijos..." 
Rosa, obrera en fdbrica de confecciones 

"Life is a struggle, one has good moments, and 
bad moments... anyway, one has to struggle 
because of the children..." 

Rosa, factory worker, garment factory 

These words of Rosa typify the daily living conditions of the garment 
factory workers in Pereira. Working in garment factories since she was 17 
years old, 40 year old Rosa is the major income provider for her 3 children 
and 67 year old mother. She began working in a small shop in the back room 
of her neighbor's house. When this small-scale enterprise was forced to 
shut down due to fluctuations in the seasonal demand for labor, she was 
lucky enough to find employment in a small factory. This small factory 
unfortunately also closed down after less than a year, and she was once again 
unemployed. During the season of high demand (October-December)i, Rosa 
once again found employment in a medium sized factory. She quit this job 
when she got married and had two children. However, after their second 
child, their economic situation required an additional income, and Rosa 

^October-December is the season of highest demand, as factories prepare for 
the large demand generated by the holiday gift-giving at Christmas. 




returned to work. After her third child her husband left and she never heard 
from hini again. At this point she went to live with her mother who cared 
for the children while Rosa continued to work in the factory. Recently the 
family also took on several renters to help with the monthly bills. 

Rosa is not alone in her movement in and out of the garment 
industrial labor force. From her case, one can clearly see how the domestic 
cycle and household composition interact with the structure of the regional 
labor force and the seasonal demand for workers by the factory to shape 
women's labor force participation. 

The household of the urban worker does not operate in isolation, nor 
is it a passive recipient of exterior forces and pressures. Placement of the 
household in the socio-economic structure of the region is essential to 
understanding the material limitations within which they operate. 

While the internal dynamics of household units are 
important in determining their standard of living at any given 
moment, the household's position within the social structure is 
decisive. . . In short, the particular characteristics of labor- 
market structure are a primary determinant of the potential for 
income generation of households with varying demographic 
characteristics . . (Schmink 1984, p.88). 

External political and economic conditions, part of the structural framework 
within which the households function, influence the organization and 
economy of the households. The pressures external to the household such as 
the demands of the labor market were considered in chapters three and four, 
to the extent that they determine the possibilities for women's employment. 
This chapter focuses on the internal dynamics of the household. 

In order to analyze major variables at the level of the household and 
how they pattern women's labor force incorporation, this chapter contrasts 


the characteristics of subcontracted industrial outworkers with those of factory 
workers. However, we must recognize that the participation of the female 
worker in the production process is only one aspect of the broader struggle of 
households to ensure their social reproduction. Other household members 
may participate in a variety of occupations. In fact, often, one or more 
household members may retain one or more jobs to ensure that the 
household can meet their economic needs. However the household's ability 
to meet their economic needs is only one part of their social reproduction. As 
discussed earlier, social reproduction of the household requires the labor of 
women in activities such as child care, cooking and cleaning. 

This chapter concentrates on the participation of the garment worker 
in the industrial process, considering both the life cycle of the woman, and 
the domestic cycle of the household as internal forces of the household. This 
discussion begins with an analysis of the household and its theoretical and 
methodological importance for this study. It is hypothesized that women's 
position in the household (which frequently changes during the domestic 
cycle) is a significant factor affecting their labor force incorporation. 

The hypothesis that women's position in the household affects her 
labor force incorporation is then applied to the data gathered in Pereira, 
Risaralda with garment workers. The stages of the domestic cycle were 
defined according to the age of the household head, ages of children, and 
number of individuals who had left the household. These stages were 
examined as a potential indicator of women's participation in the labor force. 
During certain phases of the domestic cycle, the household expands by 
incorporating more workers or consumers. This expansion may add or 
relieve women's pressure to enter the labor force. The incorporation of 
workers or consumers is studied in more depth later on in the chapter. 


The concept "household" refers to the group of people who live under 
the same roof, organize their resources collectively, and share responsibilities 
for generating an income to meet the consumption needs of the group 
(Schmink 1984). Variables in the women's life cycle which may affect 
women's labor force incorporation include: age, marital status, and number 
and age of children. This research hypothesizes that older women who are 
married will be more likely to work at home. In addition it is hypothesized 
that subcontracted industrial outworkers will have more children because 
having children at a younger age limits their possibilities for employment in 
the factory. Significant variables of the domestic cycle of the household 
include: woman's household position, family structure, age of household 
head, and presence of young children in the family. 

It is hypothesized that women who are spouses are more likely to be 
home-based workers than women who are household heads. Because of the 
lower salary of home-based workers, it is anticipated that these individuals 
will require the additional support of a major income generator to support 
the household's basic needs. Further, it is hypothesized that factory workers 
will more frequently be members of female headed households because of the 
reliance of these households on women's wages. And finally, it is anticipated 
that the domestic cycle of the household (as defined and operationalized in 
the following section) generates internal pressures (both economic and 
ideological) which further affect the women's labor force incorporation. 


Domestic Cycle 

Chayanov's (1966) description of the domestic cycle of the household 
emphasises the ratio of workers to consumers as providing a material basis 
for analyzing the household's social reproduction. He states: 

Family composition primarily defines the upper and lower 
limits of the volume of its economic activity. The labor force.. .is 
entirely determined by the availability of able-bodied family 
members. That is why the highest possible limit for volume of 
activity depends on the amount of work this labor force can give 
with maximum utilization and intensity. In the same way the 
lowest volume is determined by the sum of material benefits 
absolutely essential for the family's mere existence. 

... it is essential, therefore, to study the labor family as fully as 
possible and to establish the elements in its composition, on 
which basis it develops its economic activity... (Chayanov, 1966 

Mercedes Gonzalez de la Rocha (1984) has combined the analysis of 
Fortes with that of Chayanov. Her description of the phases of the domestic 
cycle is employed in the present analysis: 

1) The expansion phase includes the period when the household grows 
and increases with the number of births. This phase begins when the couple 
forms and ends approximately when the woman reaches 40 years of age, 
ending her fertile years. While this phase advances, the conditions for the 
following phase are created: the children grow and the household is 

2) The phase of consolidation and equilibrium is characterized by a more 
balanced ratio of workers to consumers. In this phase, the children, or at least 


some children are ready to work and contribute to the maintenance of the 

3) The dispersion phase begins when members of the household begin to 
separate themselves from the group of origin to form and organize new 
units. Even though households in this phase generally demonstrate a lower 
worker to consumer ratio, economic equilibrium may still be maintained 
through fewer dependents in the form of young children. 

Recent studies emphasize economic and socio-demographic changes 
occurring during the domestic cycle of households (Orlandina de Oliviera, et. 
al. 1989, Safa 1990). Following this framework, this study operationalizes the 
domestic cycle by socio-demographic and economic variables. For the first 
phase, the expansion phase, variables chosen to indicate formation of the 
household include: age of children (pre-school, and school age from 6 to 12), 
and age of household head (under 40) . The second phase, the consolidation 
phase, was defined by childrens' leaving school and beginning to work (after 
age 12), and the age of the household head (both men and women 40 and 
over, for women this is the end of their fertile years). The third phase, 
dispersion, considers (1) children's leaving the home and setting up their 
own households, measured by asking how many children had left the home 
for marriage or migration to look for work, and (2) a household head over 60 
years old. 


Expansion Phase 

Household head under 40 

Children under 12 

Consolidation Phase 

Household head 40-59 

Children over 12 

Dispersion Phase 
Household head over 60 
One or more children have left household 
to establish their own residences 

Figure 6.1 
Phases of the Domestic Cycle 

Economic implications of the domestic cycle are complex. A 
household in the phase of expansion is an unbalanced unit in economic 
terms because there are more consumers than workers. The household in 
expansion is under greater economic pressure than a household in the phase 
of consolidation. A household in the phase of consolidation experiences 
greater equilibrium between income generators and consumers. The 
household in the dispersion phase is subject to economic inequalities because 
economically active individuals leave the older parents, now economically 
inactive or earning a much lower salary. However, the abscence of young 
children, also decreases their expenses. Depending on the economic needs of 
the household of origin, these departing individuals may continue to send 
remittances. Therefore the ratio of workers to consumers in a household 
does not always reflect its economic condition; some workers who support 
the household may not live in the same physical unit. This study 
demonstrated this condition in only three cases. 


The fact that households have collective economic needs in no way 
implies that there are no internal conflicts. In spite of the fact that there are 
common needs, specific gender and age interests seldom result in 
harmonious agreements on household priorities and activities. For this 
reason it is important to understand how the internal relationships of 
households influence the activities of individual household members as they 
pass through the domestic cycle. Important internal changes in household 
structure resulting from the domestic cycle cause many changes in the 
structure, organization, and economy of this unit. 

Nevertheless, the domestic cycle is not a linear, inflexible process. A 
household which begins its cycle does not necessarily follow it through all of 
its phases. There are premature break-ups and other modifiers which 
transform the household. In the factory workers' households, many have 
their domestic cycle interrupted due to separation or death of household 
head(s). A male-headed nuclear family, then, may become a female-headed 
nuclear or extended family. This leads to changes in the structure of the 
household with the women generally assuming the position of household 
head, if there is no male child of working age. 

One modification of the domestic cycle of the household involves the 
incorporation of new family members through the marriage of adult children 
who live in the parents' home. This is most typical of male headed 
households. In this way, the household may gain a worker while at the same 
time helping the new couple to ease into the first phases of the domestic cycle. 
This demonstrates how two different phases of a domestic cycle become fused 
in one household. In theory, the son or daughter who gets married begins a 
phase of expansion. However, while staying in the house of origin, only the 


biological phase of expansion is developed. The economic situation of the 
new couple may fuse with the econonric situation of the older couple. 

The labor market demand interacts with the household supply of 
workers to affect women's labor force incorporation. As previously 
mentioned the supply of workers is affected by household factors such as 
women's position in the household, and ages and number of children as well 
as women's life cycle factors of age and marital status. Labor force 
incorporation may, in turn, affect the domestic cycle of the households. As 
more jobs become available for younger, single, women, it is logical to expect 
daughters to assume a more prominent role in income generation of the 
households. This age-specific (and marital status-specific) concentration of 
women in an industry where new workers can easily be trained means that, 
under conditions of high unemployment, women are absorbed and then 
rejected at different stages of their life cycle, and during different phases of the 
domestic cycle of the household. However, it must be noted that this age- 
specific concentration of women was found only in the multinational 
factories. The factory with solely national capital was less selective in their 
recruitment of workers (see Tables 6.1 and 6.2); a higher percentage of workers 
in the factory were separated or divorced compared to the multinational 


Age of Workers by Workplace 


Less than 20 























100% (35) 



100% (40) 

Table 6.2 

Marital Status by Workplace 






Marital Status 











Free Union 




Separated or Divorced 








100% (35) 



100% (35) 


The term "structure of the household" refers to the gender and age of 
the household head, as well as to the relationship of this individual (or 
individuals - there may be more than one household head) to other members 
of the household (i.e., spouse, mother, sister, grandmother, aunt, etc.). The 
household head is defined according to the response of the worker 
interviewed to the question "Who is the head of the household". 
"Composition of the household" refers to the number of individuals 
(children, parents, grandparents, etc.) who are members of the household. 
Economic contribution refers to the degree to which individuals contribute to 
household maintenance through wage-labor, or some other type of informal 
income generating activity. The structure and composition of the households 
and the economic contribution of individuals within the household to the 
household budget, are not fixed but rather change during the household's 
cycles from its expansion to consolidation. However as will be discussed later, 
(especially in the case of female-headed households) many households are 
unable to reach the level of economic stability necessary to allow the women 
to leave the wage labor force to return to their home to focus on domestic 

In Colombia, fragmentation of the labor process has led to differential 
employment of women at different stages of their life cycle. In the phase of 
household expansion, there are usually two major income generators: the 
head of the household (male or female) and the spouse. The women need to 
earn an income (for food, clothing, rent, education, etc.) but also must care for 
the children, cook, clean etc. (care for the reproductive needs of the 
household). The situation may change when the household enters the 
consolidation phase. Gonzalez de la Rocha (1989) hypothesizes that during 
this phase, the women workers who are also household heads generally 


decrease their labor force participation because much of the economic 
responsibility during this time falls on the children. 

Life Cycle Variables of Women 

In order to investigate the hypothesis that women's life cycle plays a 
crucial role in their labor force participation, I considered the marital status of 
women in three different work contexts (Table 6.2). Three different categories 
of women's labor force incorporation, factory workers (both domestic and 
multinational) and subcontracted industrial outworkers are considered in 
order to analyze the impact of the life cycle variables on labor force 
incorporation considering workplace as the dependent variable. It is 
hypothesized that married, older women are more likely to be subcontracted 
industrial outworkers, especially if they marry at a younger age. Workers in 
the factory with multinational capital i577o) are more frequently single while 
those in the factory with domestic capital are distributed fairly evenly between 
the category of single and married. Children are hypothesized to constrain 
women's participation in the labor force for both material and emotional 
reasons. While someone is needed to take care of the child, the women also 
frequently expressed a desire to be near their children, even if the child care 
tasks were performed by their mother or sister. 

Although the difference in marital status between the two groups of 
workers (factory and subcontracted industrial outworkers) is not statistically 
significant, it does demonstrate a trend for factory women to be single while 
subcontracted industrial outworkers are more frequently married. Factory 
workers also are generally younger (Table 6.1). Age is a statistically significant 
variable affecting women's labor force participation. However, we must 


realize that the small size of the sample renders the results of the tests for 
statistical significance less reliable. 

Over fifty percent of female factory workers in the multinational 
factory were single, compared with twenty six percent of subcontracted 
industrial outworkers. This is not only a function of the life cycle of the 
women, but also reflects the recruitment strategies of factories. Marital status 
and age of potential workers (factors which also change throughout the 
domestic cycle of the household) not only affect the supply of workers but are 
also key determinants of the demand for workers reflected in factory hiring 
preferences. Subcontracted industrial outworkers more frequently are older 
(Table 6.1) and married (Table 6.2) while factory workers are younger and 
more often single. The mean age of subcontracted industrial outworkers is 
39 while that of factory workers is 32 (significant at the .0005 level). 

Number of children in the household is also a significant factor 
affecting women's labor force participation. As shown in Figure 6.2, 32 
percent of the subcontracted industrial outworkers had one child or less, 
while 62 percent of the factory workers had one child or less. Only 9 percent 
of subcontracted industrial outworkers had no children, while the percentage 
of factory workers with no children was much higher (33 percent). This may 
be explained in part by the higher percentage of young, single women in the 
factory. In this sample, the subcontracted industrial outworkers' households 
have a larger number of children (most of whom are old enough to work) 
than the households of factory workers. Seventeen percent of the 
subcontracted industrial outworkers had three children while only 11 percent 
of the factory workers did, and 22 percent of the subcontracted industrial 
outworkers had four or more children, while only seven percent of the 
factory workers fell into this category. The trend demonstrated by observing 


the number of children in the family of these workers suggests that women 

who work in factories have fewer children available to assume economic 


In addition, a large number of children may hinder working in the 

factory, and, if no other form of childcare is available, women are forced to 

work at home. One cannot determine, from this sample, whether factory 

work influences women's decision on whether to have a child, and the 

number of children to have, or whether the selective recruitment strategies of 

the factory lead to preferential hiring of women without children. In the 

multinational factory, female applicants were given a blood test, and those 

who were pregnant were not contracted. Those workers who had children 

while employed by the multinational factory were often fired when it was 

learned that they were pregnant. This practice obviously discourages factory 

workers from having children. 

Number of Children by 
Workplace of Female Worker 


H- 0) 

o ^ 

= 1 

<D > 

O ^ 
Q. CQ 



I Home 
V\ Factory 

Number of Children 

Figure 6.2 
Number of Children by Workplace 


In addition to number of children, the age of the children is a 
significant factor to be considered in an analysis of the impact of the domestic 
cycle on women's labor force incorporation. Although the age differences of 
the workers are reflected in the ages of their children, not all women have 
children at the same age, therefore, a consideration of the ages of their 
children is useful in analyzing the impact of the domestic cycle on women's 
labor force incorporation. Eighty three percent of the subcontracted industrial 
outworkers have no children under 6 years of age compared to 70% of factory 
workers. Having young children, therefore, appears to be a significant 
constraint to working in either setting. However, this constraint is greater in 
factory work that requires leaving the home (Figure 6.2). Forty two percent of 
women workers (both factory and subcontracted outworkers) stated that child 
care prevents (or prevented at some point in the past) them from assuming 
factory work. However, many households utilize the labor of other female 
members to care for the children while the mother leaves the household to 
work. Table 6.3 demonstrates the range of female relatives available to 
assume child care activities for both factory and home-based workers. Factory 
workers have a wider range of options while home-based workers more often 
care for children themselves. 

This section has demonstrated that factory workers are more likely to 
be young and single. Subcontracted industrial outworkers are more 
frequently married and older. The subcontracted industrial outworkers began 
to have children at an earlier age, and they have fewer household members 
to help with child care. Subcontracted workers are generally older, and more 
frequently married. The older age of the subcontracted workers may be 
responsible for their younger age at birth of their first child since age at birth 
of first child has been declining. Few women in either category currently 


have children under 6. Child care may, therefore, be a major factor 
constraining their labor force participation. 

Table 6.3 

Type of Childcare by Workplace 

Child Care 





She cares for 



them herself 

Her mother 



Her sister 



An older child 















Other Female 







100% (22) 

(Chi Square = 10,34; DF=8, Probability = .24 Not Significant at .05 level.) 

Household Variables 

To investigate the hypothesis that women's position within the 
household (in part a function of the domestic cycle) conditions their 
incorporation into the labor force, women's position within the household 
was compared by workplace. This classification demonstrates women's 
economic role in the household better than the classification of age and 


marital status alone. For example, a single woman could be a daughter who 
is contributer to the household budget, but not a major providor, a daughter 
who is a major providor, or a single mother. This distinction cannot be made 
from the classification of marital status or age alone. Table 6.4 demonstrates a 
statistically significant difference (at the .035 level) between the women 
workers' economic position in the household according to the workplace. 

Women who are the major income providers of the household are 
concentrated in factory positions. The economic pressures these factory 
workers experience to enter the labor force are considerable. Although 
subcontracted industrial outworkers, as well as factory workers, experience 
economic pressures to enter the work force, factory workers are more often 
major economic providers as the following table demonstrates.^ 

However, women do not always perceive factory work as more 
economically feasible. In addition to child care responsibilities and 
autonomy, several women who operate their own micro-enterprises, stated 
that they made more money working at home. As discussed in Chapter Four, 
a subcontracted industrial outworker's salary is generally considerably less 
than that of factory workers. Sometimes, however, home-based workers can 
use their knowledge and experience to their economic benefit. 

2For a description of the employment of spouses and fathers, see appendix 3. 


Table 6.4 

Worker's Household Economic Position by Workplace 

(Daughters, Spouses, 


(daughters with main 
household income, wives with 
unemployed spouses with 
and without children, women 
who live alone) 

(single mothers, widowed, divorced) 








100% (35) 100% (75) 

(Chi-Square = 13.588, DF= 6, Prob = .035) 

A women's position in the household, (regardless of her economic 
responsibilities) is significantly related to her labor force participation (Table 
6.5). Although both daughters and single mothers predominate in the 
category of factory work, this may be for entirely different reasons. Because of 
the preference of the multinational factory (there is only one in the region) 
for young, single women, it is not surprising to find a high percentage of 
daughters in factory work. The high percentage of single mothers in factory 
work may be dvie to women's need for a greater stable consistent income. It 


is not surprising to find the highest percentage of spouses and mothers (74%) 
in home-based work (Table 6.5). 

Position in the Household by Workplace of Female Worker 


Women's Position 
in the Household 


Spouse and Mother 74% 

Daughter 11% 

Single mother 11% 

Other (Aunt, Cousin) 3% 

Total 35 (100%) 


75 (100%) 

Because of the (generally) lower salary of home-based workers, their 
income must be supplemented by a second individual, generally the spouse. 
Single mothers contribute the highest amount to the household budget, 
averaging 61% (Table 6.6). Table 6.7 demonstrates that when contribution to 
household budget is compared by workplace, home-based workers contribute 
less to the budget than factory workers. 


Table 6.6 

Average Contribution to Household Budget 
by Position in the Household 

Women's Position 
in the Household 

Spouse and Mother 
Single mother 
Other (Aunt, Cousin) 

Average Contribution to 
Household Budget 


Table 6.7 

Percent Contribution to Household Budget by Workplace 

Home Factory 



to Budget 














100% (32) 

100% (73) 

The structure of the household (extended or nuclear) also affects the 
economic equilibrium of the household to the extent that the ratio of 


consumers to workers changes with family extension. If the additional 
members in the extended family are working and contribute to the household 
budget, it would be anticipated that pressure for women to join the workforce. 
However, female headed extended families were only slightly more likely 
than nuclear male headed families to be found in factory settings. 
Subcontracted industrial outworkers are slightly more likely to be part of 
male headed nuclear than either male or female extended families (Table 6.8). 
A larger percentage of factory worker households are female-headed (40 % as 
compared to 28%, see Table 6.8). Thus it appears that female headed 
households experience more pressure for women to join the labor force than 
male headed households. 

In this research, 17 different household structures were found, these 
included the following types of nuclear households: complete nuclear 
families (one conjugal pair with children). The following types of extended 
households were present in the sample: nuclear families with one or more 
sets of parents of the conjugal pair, two complete nuclear families; two 
nuclear families, one complete, and one with no father; two nuclear 
famiHes, neither had father; two nuclear families, one with no father, one 
complete with parents; two nuclear families, neither including the father, but 
both had parents, two nuclear families, one without mother, one without 
father but other family members; two nuclear families, one without father; 
and two nuclear families, one complete and one with no father, but other 
non-related individuals. Few women were workers who rented apartments 
and lived alone. 


Table 6.8 

Structure of Household by Workplace 

Structure of 


J r 

Workplace of w 

Female Headed 
Male Headed 









100% {7S) 

When considering the economic significance of extended versus 
nuclear families, we must also consider at what phases of the domestic cycle 
these households become extended, and why. Female-headed households 
most frequently are extended during the expansion phase of the domestic 
cycle. Male-headed households are more often extended during the 
consolidation phase, partially to receive married children (Table 6.8). In this 
way, households with different structures demonstrate different cyclical 

If we separate female-headed households into nuclear and extended 
households, the pattern of household extension becomes clearer (Table 6.9). 
Female-headed households begin as extended households nucleating during 
the consolidation phase. This suggests that female-headed households begin 
more frequently as expanded households, in part because childcare and 
additional wage earners are available from other household members while 
the women go to work. As the children grow old enough to care for 
themselves, and enter the work force, female-headed households tend to 


consolidate. Male-headed households on the other hand, begin nucleated 
and extend under the consolidation phase. This differential pattern of 
household expansion between male and female-headed households may be 
due to the nature of employment of other women in the household (other 
than the female worker). In male-headed households, women are more 
frequently subcontracted industrial outworkers (Table 6.9). The higher wages 
of men as compared to women explain, in part, why female-headed 
households are expanded earlier in the domestic cycle of the household. In 
addition, female-headed households tend to extend by incorporating workers 
while male-headed households tend to extend by incorporating consumers. 
This is seen by comparing the worker to consumer ratio by the household 
structure. In male-headed households, children may have a better chance of 
increasing their education and entering the labor force in a more 
advantageous position, since the economic pressures of these households 
during the consolidation phase are less. 

Table 6.9 

Household Extension by Domestic Cycle 
Phase of Domestic Cycle 
Type of Household Expansion Consolidation Dispersion Total 

Nuclear Female 31 % 60 % 

Nuclear Male 37% 55 % 

Extended Female 46 % 27 % 

Extended Male 27 % 63% 


100% (22) 


100% (40) 


100% (15) 




The structure of the household is strongly related to women's 
contribution to the household budget (Table 6.10). Working women in 
female-headed households contribute a higher percentage towards the 
household budget, while female workers in nuclear male-headed households 
contribute a smaller proportion. 

Table 6.10 

Structure ol' I lousehold by Percentage Women Workers 
Contribute to Budget 

Contribution to Budget 

- 35% 

36 - 49% 

50 - 70% 

71 - 100% 

Household Structure 

Female Headed 





Male Headed 












100% (42) 

100% (7) 

100% (29) 

100% (25) 

The worker consumer ratio by workplace provides an indication of the 
economic pressures on the household. This was determined by taking the 
total number of individuals in the household (workers and consumers) and 
dividing it by the number of income earners. The more workers in the 
household, the higher the ratio. Table 6.11 demonstrates that the ratio of 
workers to consumers is greatest in the extended female-headed households 
and lower in the nuclear female-headed household category. Male-headed 
households demonstrate the reverse. In these households, the worker-to- 


consumer ratio is higher among nuclear male-headed households than it is 
among extended male-headed households. Although this data is not 
statistically significant it suggests that female-headed households become 
extended by incorporating workers, whereas male-headed households more 
frequently incorporate consumers (which are most likely children) when they 
become extended. 

Table 6.11 

Worker-to-consumer Ratio by Household Structure 

Worker-to-consumer Ratio 
Female headed 

Nuclear .45 

Extended .52 

Male Headed 

Nuclear .434 

Extended .333 

To further explore the hypothesis that economic pressures of the 
household encourage women to assume better-paying factory jobs, let us 
consider the relationship of the major economic provider of the household to 
the female worker by the place in which the woman works. If economic 
pressures of the household do encourage women to assume better-paying jobs, 
then it would follow that women, in the household of factory workers are 
more often the principle economic providers. Female factory workers are 
Hkely to be the principal breadwinners, or daughters while subcontracted 
industrial outworkers are more often dependent on the spouse (Table 6.12). 








Table 6.12 

Major Economic Provider by Workplace 
Home Factory 




Total 100% (35) 100% (75) 

(Chisquare=f7T7i8rDF =11" Prob".088) 

The percentage which women contribute to the household budget 
reflects in part the economic pressures for women's labor force incorporation. 
The greater the economic pressures for women's labor force participation, the 
larger the percentage of the household budget women would be expected to 
contribute. If the economic pressure were less, then women would be 
expected to contribute less to the household budget. In the current study, a 
significant relationship between women's workplace and their contribution 
to the household budget was found. Subcontracted industrial outworkers 
contributed an average of 45 % while the average for factory workers was 65%. 

In this sample per capita income did not differ significantly by 
workplace (Table 6.13). In fact, there is only a slight tendency for factory 
workers households to have a higher per capita income. 3 Factory workers' 
households are more often female-headed (when compared to subcontracted 
industrial outworkers households Table 6.8). The lower than expected per 

^However, because of the way in which data were gathered on income (i.e. in 
categories not as individual estimates), this measurement may not be exact. 


capita income may reflect household extension in the case of the factory 

Table 6.13 

Number of Households According to Bi- Weekly Per Capita Income 
(in Colombian pesos) and Workplace 




Bi - Weekly Income 

1,000 - 4,999 



5,000 - 9.999 



10,000 - 14,999 



15,000 - 19,999 



20,000 - 24,999 






100% (75) 

This section demonstrates that factory women are more likely to be 
either daughters, or single mothers, household heads and major economic 
providers. Subcontracted industrial outworkers are more likely to be spouses 
and mothers. Although economic pressures push more women to work in 
the factory, the households of both subcontracted industrial outworkers and 
factory workers experience economic pressures (as evidenced in the worker to 
consumer ratio). Further, female headed households tend to incorporate 
more workers into the household (as opposed to consumers), and make 
higher contributions to the household than women in male-headed 



In this chapter, I considered the major variables of the women's life 
cycle and the domestic life cycle of the household as they affect women's labor 
force participation. Women's position in the household, as well as their age, 
marital status and ages of children were considered as significant variables of 
women's life cycle. Forty two percent of the women interviewed stated that 
they preferred to work at home because of their children, indicating that child 
care is a significant factor limiting women's labor force incorporation. 
However, child care was not a significant factor limiting women's labor force 
incorporation among factory workers at the time of the interviews (i.e. few 
women had children under six). Many mothers expressed the desire to be 
with their children, and to have some influence in their training, even if they 
were busy sewing. 

While marital status was not statistically significant between the two 
groups, there was a tendency for single women to work in the factory while 
married women worked at home. Age was statistically significant. Factory 
workers were significantly younger than subcontracted industrial outworkers 
(average ages were 32 and 39 respectively). In the future, the age difference 
between factory workers (especially multinational factories) and subcontracted 
industrial outworkers will undoubtedly increase because of the policy of the 
multinational factories to hire women between 19 and 25 years of age. 

The domestic cycle was found to be a significant factor affecting 
women's labor force participation. As women's position in the household 
changes with the domestic cycle, the economic and ideological pressures she 


experiences to participate in the labor force also change. For example, 
although daughters may experience less economic pressure than women who 
are heads of households to participate in the labor force, they also experience 
less ideological constraints keeping them in the household. Women's 
contribution to the household budget was generally higher when she was 
household head indicating that female heads of households experience more 
pressure to participate in the labor force. 

The structure of the household, male or female headed, and nuclear or 
extended affects women's labor force incorporation. Female-headed 
households and male-headed households pursue different strategies 
(regarding the incorporation of workers or consumers) when they become 
extended. Female-headed households in this sample tended to extend 
themselves more frequently by incorporating other workers (in part because 
the lower salary of women compared to men necessitates more income 
earners in the household when the major economic providers are women) 
whereas extending male-headed households more frequently incorporate 
consumers. Income per capita was found to be greatest during the 
consolidation (as opposed to expansion) phase although this was not 
statistically significant. 

This chapter differentiates between the life cycle of the woman, and the 
life cycle of the household. Both play an important role in shaping women's 
entrance and exit from the labor force. Although these factors are related to 
changing economic pressures of the household unit, these economic 
pressures alone do not necessarily lead to the incorporation of women into 
the labor force, but may lead to the extension of the family to include other 
workers, though this is most often the case with female-headed households. 
The headship of the household is not directly correlated with the domestic 


cycle, although there is a tendency for female-headed households to be 
concentrated in the consolidation phase. Households with different 
structures of headship demonstrate different strategies for responding to the 
economic pressures generated during the domestic cycle of the household. 
These pressures include the addition of consumers (young children during 
the phase of expansion), the introduction of other non-working family 
members, and the rising costs of living (food prices, education, money spent 
building home). 

This analysis demonstrated that both subcontracted industrial 
outworkers and factory workers experience considerable economic pressure to 
generate an additional income. However, the subcontracted industrial 
outworkers experience less pressure due largely to : (1) the lower percentage 
of female heads of households among this group, and (2) the greater number 
of workers demonstrated by the larger worker-to-consumer ratio. 

The next chapter considers changing authority patterns and 
women's role in household decision making as it is affected by the domestic 
cycle of the household, the women's life cycle, and women's incorporation 
into the labor force. 



La autoridad en la casa. . . los 
dos compartidos, los dos tienen 
puntos de autoridad. 
Manuela (interview #139) 

Authority in the household. . . 
we both share it, we both have 
specific areas of authority. 
Manuela (interview #139) 

The study of the domestic cycle in the previous chapter demonstrates 
that many socio-demographic and economic changes occur within the 
household during this process. Often these changes lead to contradictions 
and conflicts within the household. On the one hand, households generate 
solidarity relationships which facilitate economic organization based on 
multiple income-generating strategies. However changes occuring in the 
domestic cycle also foment conflict in relationships of domination and 
subordination in the workers' households. These power relationships express 
themselves in decisions made daily. 

This chapter discusses Colombian data to explore the hypothesis that 
increasing women's income increases their authority (and their participation 
in decision making in the household). In this research, women's 
contribution to the budget is considered as an indicator of her economic 



position within the household. Major variables utilized to analyze women's 
increasing authority in the household include: the woman worker's age, 
marital status, and her position in the household. It is hypothesized that 
older women have more authority in the household; married women have 
more authority in household decision making than single women; and that 
female workers who are members of female headed households exhibit more 
authority than women members of male headed households. 

As Chapter Six demonstrated, subcontracted industrial outworkers 
households have different structures from the households of factory workers. 
This research further hypotheses that these different household structures 
will lead to differing authority patterns. The households of subcontracted 
industrial outworkers are more frequently members of nuclear male headed 
families while factory workers households are more frequently female 
headed (Table 6.8). Ethnographic information from the interviews is 
provided to demonstrate that increasing women's income alone does not 
directly increase her authority within the household. Rather a combination 
of factors (including the women's age, her position within the household, her 
work experience, and educational level) contribute to the degree of authority 
which she exercises within the household. 

Much research has shown that access to monetary income is an 
important basis for the development of relationships of power in the 
household (Bruce and Dwyer 1989; Roldan 1985; Safa 1990; Beneria and 
Roldan 1987; Safilios-Rothschild 1976). For this reason, an analysis of the 
access and control of income entering the household is a useful way of 
uncovering mechanisms which reproduce and /or modify relationships of 
domination and subordination. 


However, household authority patterns cannot be reduced merely to 
access and control of monetary income. Many factors aside from gender and 
income (factors such as age and educational level) also affect power 
relationships within the household. The structure of the household (nuclear 
or extended), and male or female headship which influences women's labor 
force incorporation must also be considered in an analysis of authority 

Household Authority Patterns 


When questioned about authority in the household, the majority of 
the home-based workers and factory workers said that they did not feel that 
having an income gave them any more power or authority within the 
household. Factory workers in general did not state that they had any more 
authority than subcontracted industrial outworkers. In fact, a larger 
percentage of home-based workers felt that they had more authority in the 
household than did factory workers (40 percent for home-based workers 
versus 25 percent for factory workers Figure 7.1). However, this may be due to 
the higher percentage of married women among home-based workers 
compared to factory workers. 


Response to Question: "Do you feel that you have more authority in 

the household because you work?" 


w > 

o « 
Q. E 


Household Authority by Workplace 

100 -\ 


50 - 

25 - 

m Yes 
^ No 

Factory Home 


Figure 7.1 

Wonnen's Perception of Their Authority 
in the Household by Their Workplace 

Home ownership 

Home ownership is hypothesized to be a significant variable which 
provides women and men with a basis for asserting their authority. As one 
informant stated "The house belongs to my parents, for this reason I am still 
under their authority. "(Interview # 53). In this analysis, a consideration of 
home ownership by workplace and authority patterns reflects the difference 
in the household composition between workplaces. As discussed in Chapter 
6, factory workers are more often younger, daughters, while home-based 


workers are older, generally married. It is not surprising, therefore, that in 
the case of the home-based workers, the household was owned by a male 
household member, whereas in the case of the factory workers, the 
household was owned just as frequently by a male or by a female family 

Table 7.1 demonstrates that there is a significant relationship between 
workplace and home ownership (at the .05 level). A much larger percentage 
of factory workers lived in households where another female family member 
was the owner of the household (3% for home-based workers versus 19% for 
factory workers), while a much higher percentage of home-based workers 
lived in homes owned by a male family member (43% for home-based 
workers versus 19 percent for factory workers). The largest percentage of 
factory workers rented their home (43 percent compared with 34 percent for 
home-based workers). 

However, Table 7.2 demonstrates that home ownership does not 
necessarily give women more perceived authority in the household. Of those 
women who owned their home, less than 50% (6 out of 13) stated that they 
had more authority in the household, regardless of their workplace. 

To further analyze how authority relationships are manifested and 
resolved in the households of the garment workers, let us consider the 
following results of factory worker interviews which discuss management of 
household economics through the budget. 


Home Ownership by Workplace 






Owned House 

Male family member 



Female family member 









Both together 




100% (35) 




Table 7.2 

Home Ownership by Authority in the Household 

Response to Question: "Do you feel you have more 
authority in the household because you work?" 







100% (44) 


Male Family Member 



100% (29) 

Female Family Member 



100% (15) 




100% (13) 



100% (5) 

Both Together 


100% (5) 

Access and Control of Budget 

In this section, control of the budget is considered to be a major 
mechanism leading to relationships of domination and subordination within 
the household. Major variables considered in this discussion of control of the 
household budget include: (1) who the workers stated was the main economic 
provider for the household; (2) what percentage of the budget these workers 
considered that they contributed to the household's income; (3) who controls 
the budget as stated by the workers; (4) patterns of decision making on major 
issues such as marketing, children's schooling and household labor 


allocation, and (5) household authority patterns as expressed in the worker 

As shown in Chapter Six, the main economic provider of the 
household varies depending on the workplace of the women. This 
relationship is statistically significantly at the .05 level. Table 7.3 
demonstrates that while 37 percent of the subcontracted industrial 
outworkers workers cite their spouse or another male in the family as the 
main economic provider, only 12 percent of factory workers do. 

Table 7.3 
Major Economic Provider by Workplace 








or other male 














100% (35) 

100% {75) 

Thirty seven percent of the home-based workers said they were 
primarily responsible for the household income, compared to 55 percent of 
the factory workers. This data further supports the hypothesis that women are 
incorporated into the wage-labor force during phases of the domestic cycle 
when they experience economic pressure to generate an additional income; 
economic pressures leading to breaking of the cultural tradition which 
relegates women solely to household (domestic) chores. 


A comparison of percentage of budget contributed by worker with 
control of the budget, reveals a positive relationship between what percentage 
of the budget the worker provides and her ability to administer it (Table 7.4). 
Table 7.4 and Table 7.5 demonstrate that percent contributed to the household 
budget is statistically significant in determining household authority at the .05 
level. Women who contribute more to the household budget state that their 
increased income positively affects their position of authority within the 

When testing the response to the question, "Do you feel that you have 
more authority in the household because of your work?" against the age, 
educational level of the worker, position of the worker in the household and 
contribution to the household budget, the only statistically significant factor 
(at the .05 level) was contribution to the household budget. 

When testing authority patterns against workplace and controlling for 
women's position within the household, female factory workers who were 
single mothers and household heads consistently felt that they had more 
authority in the household because of their work. These households also 
had fewer male members, indicating that it is more common for women 
workers to have authority over other women than other men. This indicates 
that there are several factors interacting in the determination of authority 
patterns in the household, not only women's income generation, but also her 
position within the household. 


Table 7.4 

Budget Control by Percent of Budget Contributed 

Percent of Budget Contributed by Women 

51 to 75 76 to 100 


52% 72% 

17% 12% 


3.5% 4% 

17% 4% 


Total 100% (43) 100% (11) 100% (29) 100% (25) 

Less than 35 

36 to 50 

Who controls 

















Both Self 


and Spouse 

Another Fan\ily 


Self and Other 


Table 75 

Percent of Budget Contributed by Authority in Household 

Response to Question: "Do you feel you have nmore authority in the 
household because you work?" 

No Yes 

Percent Contributed to 

Household Budget 













Total 100% 75 100% 30 | 


Table 7.6 demonstrates that although women do not always equate 
making important decisions in the household with household authority, 
there is a tendency for women who make important decisions in the 
household to see themselves as having more authority. 


Table 7.6 

Who makes Important Decisions in the 
Household by Women's Authority 

Response to Question: "Do you feel you have more 
authority in the household because you work?" 

























Each individual 



Other Female 




Other Male 




100% (78) 

100% (30) 

Culture and the Household 

In order to understand how women's labor force incorporation affects 
patterns of household authority and decision-making, we must understand 
the culture in which the women live and work. The mediating function of 
the family or household is fundamental to understand the reproduction of 


social values, which are reflected in household authority patterns. The 
socialization process of the family provides children with a map to guide 
them through their lives. Knowledge about the world is imparted through 
the family. The degree to which parental structure influences the 
socialization of children depends, to a large extent, on the structure of the 

Virginia Guttierrez de Pineda states that the dominant factor of 
authority in Colombia is patriarchy, stimulated largely by the Church and the 
State, who strive to maintain men in positions of power. According to 
Guitterrez de Pineda (1986), children pass through a brief period when their 
activities are indistinguishable by gender. Later on, the boy follows the father, 
and helps him with his tasks, and the girl does the same, guided by the 
mother and her values within the home. A period of socialization takes 
place, in which the young boy is converted into a shadow of his father and 
gradually assumes his tasks. The daughter is socialized in the image of her 
mother, just as the male child assumes the roles of his father. 

According to Rojas de Gonzales (1986) even though the number of 
women who enter productive work is increasing, one still observes "cultural 
and economic characteristics which are slow to change". She states: 

. . . cultural and economic characteristics which are only slowly 
eradicated, transmitted through education and tradition from one 
generation to another give way to family structures in which men 
dominate over women. (P. 86 my translation). 

Rojas de Gonzalez goes on to elaborate five principal issues affecting the 
Colombian family in the recent decade. The following aspects centralized in 
the urbanized districts of the intermediate and large cities include: (1) The 
decreasing influence of the family in urban areas under highly competetive 


circumstances (both economic and otherwise) emphasizing individual 
achievement; (2) The tendency to permit women greater independence as they 
increase their economic security; (3) According to a study by Ligia Echeverry de 
Ferrufino (1987), the frequent and diverse types of de-facto union which make 
up to 30% of the couples in the urban areas of Colombia lead to increasing 
instability of the household; (4) The increasing amount of domestic violence 
(Casa de la Mujer 1986) and (5) The influence of the mass media on the values 
and ethics of the Colombian family. The increasingly widespread availability 
of television and other forms of mass media portray a set of values and needs 
which do not necessarily reflect the capacity of the average Colombian 

All of these factors contribute to the changing values of the Colombian 
family, both within the household and workplace. Although it is anticipated 
that women's income generation will increase their participation in 
household decision making, this is not a direct correlation as the following 
excerpts from interviews indicates (also see Ethnographic Vignettes in 
Appendix D). 

An analysis of ethnographic information from the interviews 
demonstrates that the women's perception of 'authority' in the household is 
an important factor to be considered in interpreting the data. The authority 
and headship of the household is a result of the interaction of economic, 
socio-demographic and socio-cultural factors. For example, when the women 
were asked "Do you think that you have more authority in the household 
because of your work?" a variety of responses were encountered. Their 
clarification of the responses provides additional information about the 
women's interpretation of authority within the household. 


"No, work doesn't give one the right to command in the 
house." (Interview #90) 

"No, just because I work and provide some income, doesn't 
mean that I'm going to demand more power" (Interview # 79) 

"No, I wouldn't consider it fair"(Interviews #75, 76, 78) 

"No, the decisions are made between the two" (Interview #125) 

"The fact that one works doesn't give one any more authority, 
nor does it take any away" (Interview #127) 

"No, Everything is done together, there is no individuality" 
(Interview #132) 

"No, The fad that one works is a personal achievement, 
everyone benefits" (Interview #139) 

"All are equal and have the same rights." (Interview #112) 

Those who did state that the work provided them with an economic basis for 
more authority in the household stated the following: 

"Yes, I'm contributing something and living experiences which 
permit me to have more authority in the household and 
demonstrate that I, too, am a person" (Interview # 89) 

"Yes, but I only give orders to my children." (Interview # 68) 

"I think so, because if I didn't work, my husband would be on 
my back more. Working gives one more freedom." (Interview # 

"Yes, by having an income one has more security, more 
autonomy." (Interview #131) 

A few women reiterated the traditional belief that the male should be 
considered the household head: 


"No, I don't have more authority because the man is the one 
who controls the household and makes the orders." (Interview 

"No, the man should always be the one to rule in the 
household." (Interview # 114) 

Others expressed another culturally traditional belief that parents should rule, 
demonstrating the significance of age in determining household authority 

"The authority always belongs to the eldest person" (Interview # 

"No, in any case one always has to ask permission from mama 
for everything." (Interview #121) 

"No, mama has always been the boss." (Interview #126) 

"No, the parents should have the authority, both should rule" 
(Interviews, #102, 113). 

However, by far, the majority of those who did not feel they had more 
authority interpreted the concept of authority to mean dominance in 
household decision making. They did not perceive their work as giving 
them more "dominance" in the process of household decision-making, but in 
some cases it contributed to more egalitarian relationshiips in the household. 
In this sence, their concept of the ideal model of power relationships in the 
household was more democratic than those who reflected the traditional 
"machismo" ideology of authority in which men dominate. 



This chapter analyzes significant socio-economic and demographic 
factors affecting household decision-making patterns. Workplace, position 
in household, and access and control of budget were considered as significant 
variables influencing women's decision making power in the household. 
Although workplace affected women's income generating possibilities, it was 
not a significant predictor of household decision making. Home ownership, 
although significantly different by workplace, was not a significant predictor 
of authority patterns either. The percent of income contributed to the 
household budget was a significant predictor of the women's perception of 
who controls the budget. In fact, women who contribute more to the 
household budget state that their increased income positively affects their 
position of authority within the household. In turn, women's position in the 
household was found to be a significant predictor of her contribution to the 
household budget with female heads of households contributing more. 
When testing authority patterns against workplace and controlling for 
women's position in the household, female factory workers who were single 
mothers and household heads consistently felt that they had more authority 
in the household. These were also the workers whose budgetary 
contributions were higher. These households also had fewer male members, 
indicating that it is more common for women workers to have authority 
over other women than other men. 

When testing the response to the question, "Do you feel that you have 
more authority in the household because of your work?" against the age. 


educational level of the worker, position of the worker in the household and 
contribution to the household budget, the only statistically significant factor 
(at the .05 level) was contribution to the household budget. Ethnographic 
information from interviews demonstrate that the majority of the workers 
interviewed do not consider that their paid employment alone gives them 
more authority in the household. Rather, it is increased contribution to the 
household budget which was the most powerful predictor of women's 
perception of her household authority. 


The uneven and unrestricted expansion of 
capitalism {in Colombia} brought poverty at 
the same time as it created wealth. Two 
economies emerged to mirror the two faces of 
the political order: the formal, measured 
economy with its impressive statistics of 
economic growth, and the other, where the 
majority of people live and work, the so- 
called informal economy. 
Pearce 1991 

This research analyzed the relationship between the organization of 
gender relations in the household and wonnen's labor force incorporation. 
In order to analyze the impact of industrial restructuring on social 
reproduction of households, this research considered: 1) the impact of 
changes within the domestic cycle of the household on (a) the availability 
of female labor, and (b) new patterns of household authority resulting 
from women's sources of income, 2) the impact of factory recruitment 
strategies on women's labor force incorporation, and 3) the impact of 
changes in the structure of production, due to both political and economic 
pressures in the region, on women's labor force incorporation and the 
composition and structure of the workers' households. 

Women's labor force incorporation is conditioned by the demand 
for laborers as expressed in recruitment strategies of factories, and the 
changing structure of production within the industry. As in other 



multinational industries, the managers of the multinational garment 
factory studied in this research expressed the policy practice of hiring only 
women under 25 years of age with an education equivalent to 10th grade, 
preferably single with no children. Obviously these requirements limit 
the women who will be hired for this type of work. This recruitment 
strategy was not expressed by the factories with solely domestic capital, 
only those with mixed capital. Further, in Colombia both the political 
condition and the economic situation have encouraged the development 
of small micro-enterprises subcontracted to the larger factories. The great 
majority of workers in these small micro-enterprises which produce 
garments in Risaralda are women (SENA 1987). Encouraging the 
development of small-scale enterprises without regulating the types of 
contracts possible with the larger factories, increases the exploitation of 
women workers in these small factories. In fact, women working in the 
small-scale enterprises are paid the lowest salaries and given the worst 
benefits of any other workers (interview of History Professor in Pereira 

Research Findings 

At the household level, this research describes how women's domestic 
responsibilities and social relationships in the household limit her options in 
the labor market. It was found that women with additional household 
responsibilities (especially wives and mothers) are more likely to participate 
in home-based production. However, female heads of household are more 
frequently found in the factory where they can command higher salaries. 
Further, differences in household composition lead to different social 


relationships which are correlated with different authority patterns within 
the household. 

Marriage and childcare also affect women's labor force incorporation. 
Single women and female household heads worked more frequently in the 
factory, while married women are more likely to work in subcontracted 
industrial outwork. Industrial outworkers also have more children. In 
addition, women's contribution to the household budget was higher if she 
was the household head. This research provides tentative findings related to 
patterns of household extension. Female headed households tend to become 
extended by incorporating workers, while male headed households more 
frequently incorporate consumers. 

At the workplace level this research has demonstrated how informal 
methods of contracting labor are increasing due largely to increasing 
international competition which requires cheaper labor. This increasing 
informality of contracts, includes not only subcontracted industrial outwork 
but also labor relationships within the factory (especially the factory with 
solely domestic capital) making them less stable. This increasing 
informalization of the labor market and utilization of subcontracting leads to 
increasing subordination of women's position in the labor market. 

The relationship between the household and workplace is quite 
complex. Both the structure of the labor market and the structure of the 
household determine women's labor force incorporation, but not in 
isolation. The structure of the household affects the supply of workers 
available to meet the labor market demand for workers. This includes such 
factors as the age and marital status of women, their position in the 
household, and their household composition. 


Theoretical Contributions of this Study 

In Hght of the research presented in this dissertation, we now return 
to some of the initial questions presented in Chapter One. This research 
describes the impact of industrial restructuring and fragmentation of the 
production process (which facilitates capital accumulation in the large 
enterprises) on social reproduction of the household. It considers both 
material (i.e. economic contributions to the household budget) and 
ideological (i.e. patterns of household decision making) factors affecting 
household patterns of interaction. This study confirms the hypothesis 
stated by Beneria and Roldan (1987) and Safa (1990) that women's control 
over their incomes (as measured in contribution to the household budget) 
contributes to their perception of their authority in the household. 

In theoretical discussions of women's work, it is important to 
emphasize the role played by ideology in analyzing economic reality, 
while also considering the material bases of ideological processes. For 
example, the concentration of wives and mothers in subcontracted 
industrial outwork is, in part, the consequence of conditioning factors that 
include Ideological elements such as the "proper" role of wife and mother, 
and material elements such as the household's division of labor, and the 
husband's contribution to the household income (Beneria and Roldan 
1987). Also, these women can afford to earn less because they generally 
have a male wage earner. In the workplace, the interaction between 
material and ideological factors are also in evidence. For example, lower 
wages for women are related to occupational segregation and also to an 


ideological justification of women as secondary or supplemental income 
earners (see also Beneria and Roldan 1987, Safa 1990). 

This research contributes to the literature on women and 
development. The analytical perspective provided here critiques the 
modernization framework which states that development increases 
women's status. Though with the new international division of labor, 
women (as opposed to men) are more frequently incorporated into the 
labor force of the multinational industries, these jobs pay poorly and offer 
little advancement. This new international division of labor is part of 
industrial restructuring on the international level which places firms with 
domestic capital at increasingly disadvantageous positions. These firms 
with domestic capital more frequently resort to subcontracting in a chain 
like fashion (as described in Chapter Four) to cut costs in both labor and 
infrastructure. At the national level women working in factories or as 
subcontracted industrial outworkers are also subordinated to the needs of 
both national and international capitalists. 

In considering the impact of industrial restructuring on social 
reproduction, this research emphasized how fragmentation of the labor 
process contributes to women's subordination in the workplace and in 
subcontracted industrial outwork. Integral to the fragmentation of the 
production process are studies which document the impact that the new 
international division of labor has on women's work. This study 
contributes further to research documenting the employment of women 
as a cheap source of labor utilized by multinational and national factories 
throughout the world (Frobel, Heinriches and Kreye 1980, Elson and 
Pearson 1981, Safa 1981, 1990, Nash and Fernandez-Kelly 1983, Beneria and 
Roldan 1987). 


175 I 

This increasing incorporation of female workers contributes to 
wonnen assuming more important economic roles in the household. 
Household relationships were shown to change with women's labor force 
incorporation. However, by illustrating that women's labor force 
participation does not lessen her household responsibilities, this research 
demonstrates that labor force incorporation is not always liberating for 
women. On the contrary, this activity often results in women's increasing 
subordination and the "double day". 

However, the fact that women's labor force incorporation is not 
necessarily "liberating" for women does not mean that women should 
remain at home and not work. Rather this study emphasizes that for paid 
employment for women to be liberating, working conditions and pay 
must be improved (for men as well as women) and measures must be 
taken to alleviate women's houseyold burdens, not only through 
informal kin networks, but through greater sharing of domestic tasks with 
men and state support of child care. 

One additional benefit of women's labor force incorporation is its 
impact on authority patterns. However, this is not a direct and 
mechanical relationship. Rather, women's increased authority in the 
household appears to be correlated with the extent of their contribution to 
the household budget. Ideological factors again play a role. It appears that 
in Colombia, patriarchal ideology is stronger, perhaps because of the 
influence of the Catholic church than in the Caribbean or Mexico (Safa 
1990, Beneria and Roldan 1987). 

This study contributes to research on women's labor force 
incorporation in Colombia such as those by Leon (1982), Deere and Leon 
(1982), Bonilla (1985), and Truelove (1988, 1990). Specifically this research 


utilizes the methodology of Beneria and Roldan (1987) to analyze the 
impact of the restructuring of production on women's labor force 
incorporation both in the factory and the home. Unlike Beneria and 
Roldan, who focus solely on subcontracted industrial production, this 
research compares factors at both the household and factory level as they 
affect women's labor force incorporation. The research concludes that 
subcontracted industrial outwork incorporates women into the labor force 
in a subordinate position, reducing production costs for the larger 
capitalist enterprise. Further, the increasing fragmentation of the 
production process and the increasing use of maquila in the garment 
industry decreases the cost of contracting factory workers for the large 
multinational factories. Generally workers are only contracted for a short 
period of time, or for a specific order (such as an order of shirts, skirts, etc.). 
This increasingly subordinate incorporation of women occurs at a time 
when there is a growing reliance on women's contribution to the 
household budget for sustenance of the household which becomes 
particularly important in the case of the female headed households. 

Prospects for the Colombian Case 

In May of 1990, Colombians elected a new president - Cesar Gaviria 
Trujillo. The choice of candidates in this election had been severely 
narrowed by assasinations of three candidates, two of them representing 
the left. This violence, contrary to popular belief, is not solely a result of 
vengeful drug lords, or opportunistic politicians vying for a piece of the 
political pie. Rather this violence is symptomatic of a much deeper socio- 


economic conflict. Behind the bloody cocaine wars lies a class struggle 
which has been the source of violent uprisings in the country for 

Although this complex socio-economic conflict at the source of 
Colombia's political violence was not the focus of the research, this 
analysis of the female labor force in the garment industry highlights many 
of the difficulties facing the heterogeneous Colombian working class. This 
study provides a description of one sector of the working class, the 
garment industrial labor force, emphasizing (1) the impact of industrial 
restructuring on the dynamic nature of this sector of the working class, (2) 
the role of women in the reproduction of this class, and (3) the ideological 
implications for the changing material conditions of these women 
workers for authority patterns in the household. This study describes the 
lives of women forced to contribute to their families means of survival in 
the intermediate industrializing city of Pereira. Through an 
understanding of their struggles, then, can come insight into the socio- 
economic problems which this country must seriously examine if it is to 
break the century old cycle of violence. 

As international capitalists continue to seek cheaper sources of labor, 
and Latin American countries seek new sources of capital for industrial 
development, the plight of workers (especially women) is difficult. However, 
these workers' households demonstrate considerable flexibility in their 
adaptation to harsh economic circumstances. Since women have 
traditionally been relegated to precarious economic positions, it is no surprise 
that they continue to represent a highly vulnerable sector of the labor force. 
With the economic opening in Colombia, the competition for international 
markets deepens. The effect on the working class households, as women 


assume positions of economic importance in the household, yet continue to 
be incorporated in subordinate positions in the economy is hardly a desirable 
advance for industrial "development". 

Interview with Workers 


Datos sobre la unidad Domestica-PREGUNTAR A TOD AS 


PI. Quienes de la familia han salido fuera del hogar? 

Nombre / A donde / Hace cuanto / De que Trabaja / Envia Dinero 

P2. Cual considera usted es la entrada economica principal en su 


P3. Cuanto da cada uno de los miembros de la familia para los 

gastos familiares? 

P3a. A Quien le da el dinero del gasto? 
P4. Ayuda con el quehacer de la casa? 
P4a. Que hace? 

1. Llavar 

2. Planchar 

3. Hacer las compras 

4. Cuidar los ninos 

5. Limpiar la casa 

6. Cocinar 

8. No Sabe 9. NA 
P4b. Cada cuando? 


PI Se ha casado usted mas de una vez? 

Plb. Cuantas veces se ha casado Ud. anteriormente? 

Pic. Esta en union civil? 
P2. En que ano se caso (se fue a vivir) con su primer marido? 

P2a. Cuantos anos tenia Ud cuando se caso (se fue a vivir 

con su primer marido) por primera vez? 

P2b. Cuantos anos tenia su primer marido cuando se casaron 
(empezaban a vivir juntos)? 

P2c. En su caso, en que ano (se caso) se fue a vivir con 



su segundo marido? 

P3 Tenia hijos cuando Ud. se caso? 

P3a. Cuantos anos tenia sus hijos cuando Ud. se caso? (Nombre, edad) [ 

P4. Cuantos anos Uevan (llevaban) de casados? [ 

P5. Le gustaria tener mas hijos, porque? '• 

P6. Hace algo para evitarlos? Que? 
P7. Cuantos hijos tiene actualmente? 
P8. Cuantos anos tenia Ud. cuando tuvo el primer hijo? 
P9. Si tiene hijos de menos de 6 anos, quien le 

ayuda a cuidar a los hijos? 
PIO Cuantos de sus hijos ya se casaron? 
Pll. Se han casado algunas de sus hijas? 
P12. Cree que tiene(n) un buen marido? Por que? 


PI 3. Usted Dice que es separada, Cuantos hijos tenia 

cuando se separo de su primer marido ? 
P14. Cuantos anos tenia sus hijos cuando Ud. se 

separo? (Nombre, edad) 
PI 5. Hace cuanto tiempo que se separo de su esposo? 

PI 5a. Tambien se divorciaron? 

P15b. Quien decidio separarse o divorciarse? 
PI 6. Le gustaria vol verse a casar, porque? 
PI 7. Trabajaban sus hijos cuando se divorcio? 

Nombre / Trabajo 
PIS. Recibia o recibe alguna ayuda de su esposo, aunque esten 


P19. Hace cuanto tiempo murio su esposo? 

__(anos, meses, semanas) 8. No Sabe 9. NA 

P20. Cuantos anos hace que usted esta casada con su esposo 


PI. Se casaron sus papas? 

P2. Hace cuanto que viven juntos? 

P2b. Usted les da dinero para el gasto? 
P3. Cuantos anos tenia su mama cuando se casaron? 
P4. Cuantos anos tenia su papa? 
P5. Cuantos hijos en total han tenido sus papas? 



P6. Hace cuanto se separaron? 

P7. Porque se separaron (especificar quien tomo la decision) 


P9. Hace cuanto enviudo? Recibe pension (Cuanto)? 

DATOS GENERALES DE LA OBRERA (Repitelas para el jefe de la 
familia si la obrera no es jefa.) 

PI. Donde nacio? 

PI a. Vino directamente de alii a Pereira? 
Plb. Por que vino a Pereira 

1. Trabajo 2. Fan\ilia 3 No Se 4. NA 5. Otra Razon 
Pic. Cuando llego a esta ciudad estaba Ud: 

1. Casada (Pase a Id) 

2. Union Civil 

3. Union Temporal 

4. Separada 

5. Divorciada 

6. Nunca Casada - Soltera 

7. Otra - Especificar 

8. No Sabe 9.NA 

Pld. Me dijo que era casada, ?su familia le acompano 

cuando se mudo a este lugar? 
1. Si, esposo y hijos 2. Si, solo esposo 
3. Si, solo hijos 5. No 8. No Sabe 9. NA 
P2. Trabajaba cuando llego a la ciudad? 
1. Si (Pase a 2a ) 5.No (Pase a Capitulo III) 8. NS 9. NA 
P2a. Que tipo de trabajo consiguio primero? 
P2b. Cuantos anos tenia? 
P3. Enviaba parte de su ingreso a personas que viven en 
otra ciudad? 

P3a. Mas o menos que porcentage del sueldo envia? 

1. Todo 

2. Mas que la mitad 

3. Mitad 

4. Menos que la mitad 
8. No Sabe 9. NA 




PI. Trabaja su papa? (si no, en que trabajaba?) 

Pla. Hasta que ano estudio su papa? 
P2. Trabaja su mama? (si no, en que trabajaba?) 

P2a. Hasta que ano estudio su madre? 
P3. Cuanto hace que trabaja en la costura? 

P3a. Trabajo antes como modista? 

P3b. Como aprendio a coser? 

P3c. Cuantos anos tenia? 
P4. En cuantos lugares ha cosido por sueldo, cuando y porque ha 
dejado de trabajar? 
P5. Que hacia antes de entrar a trabajar como costurera? 

P5a. Cuantos anos tuvo cuando tenia el primer trabajo 
pagado? y cual fue? 

P6 Con que frecuencia recibe el salario del primer empleo? 
P7 Cuanto es su ingreso mensual? 

1. Entre 1.000 -24.999 mil 

2. Entre 25.000 - 37.499 mil 

3. Entre 37.500 - 49.999 mil 

4. Entre 50.000 - 62.499 mil 

5. Entre 62.500 - 74.999 mil 

6. Mas que 75.000 8. No sabe 

P8 Cual es el ingreso familiar total mensual? 

1. Entre 1.000 - 24.999 mil 

2. Entre 25.000 - 37.499 mil 

3. Entre 37.500 - 49.999 mil 

4. Entre 50.000 - 62.499 mil 

5. Entre 72.500 - 74.999 mil 

6. 75.000 y mas 8. No Sabe 

P9 Firmo Ud. un contrato? 
PIO Sabe Ud. las condiciones de su contrato? 
PlOa. Cuales son? 


PI. En que fabrica trabaja actualmente? 
P2. Porque busco este trabajo? 

P2a. Como supo de el? 

P2b. Cuanto tiempo Ueva trabajando aqui? 


P3. Cual es su horario? 

P4. Que pasa si llega tarde? 

P5. Que pasa si falta? 

P6. Realiza Ud. horas extras en su trabajo? (Sondea si de forma 

voluntaria o de forma obligitario?) 

P6a. Con que frecuencia trabaja horas extras? 

P6b. A Como le paga las horas extras? 

P6c. El mes pasado, Cuantas horas extras trabajo? 
P7. Como se organizan los descansos? 

P8. Cual es su horario diario (sondea a que hora se levanta, que 
hace, a que hora se acuesta, etc.) 
P9. Que produce la fabrica donde trabaja? 

P9a. Hace trabajo para otras fabricas de ropa? 

P9b. Mando trabajo para otras fabricas de ropa? 
PIO. Que tipo de maquinas tiene la fabrica (industrial, pedal, 

Pll. Cuantas obreras tiene la fabrica? 

PI 2. Como se organiza el trabajo en la fabrica (por ejemplo hay 
cuotas minimas, etc.)? 

P13. En que consiste su trabajo (como es que la pusieron alii)? 
P14. Hace lo mismo que cuando empezo aqui? 

P14a. Que hacia antes? 
PI 5. Hay premio y castigos? 
PI 6. Cuales son? 
PI 7. Le hicieron pruebas para contratarla? 

PI 7a. En que consistieron? 

PI 7b. Le pagaron por ellas? 
PI 8. Firmo papeles para empezar a trabajar? 

Por observacion 

19. El campo de trabajo es de pie, sentado o cambia? 
P20. Tiene buena luz, ventilacion, es comoda su silla? 


P21. Que maquina maneja Ud. ? 

P22. Le pagan por pieza o le dan salario? 

l.Porpieza 5. Salario 9. NA 

P22a. Cuanto gana por pieza o mensual? 

P23. Sabe Ud. cual es el salario minimo oficial? 

P23a. Cuanto ganaba Ud.(semanal o mensual) cuando comenzo a 
trabajar en esta fabrica? 

P23b. Cuanto gana ahora? 

P23c. Se mantiene la familia con su salario? 
P24. Ademas de los ingresos por su(s) trabajo (s) ?Que otra 
entrada economica se genera en el hogar y quien la aporta? 
(Sondear si es necessario: Por ejemplo: rentas, pensiones por 


accidentes, ayuda de familiares, vende hielo o ropa, pension del 

padre para el (los) hijo(s)?) 

P25.Como distribuye usted su salario (En que gasta Usted su 

salario)? Le pide permiso a alguien para gastarlo? A quien? 

P26. Ademas de su sueldo que otras prestaciones tiene? 

P27. La empresa le admite trabajar durante su embarazo? Hasta 

que tiempo? 
P27a. Tiene licencia de Maternidad (40 dias habiles)? 

P27b. Le da permiso de lactancia (una hora?) 
P28. Se ha embarazado alguna vez? 

P29. Porque trabaja ahora? 

P29a. Porque empezo a trabajar? 

P29b. Dejaria de trabajar si pudiera? 
P30. Ha visto Ud. muchos cambios en las condiciones de la 
fabrica desde que comenzo a trabajar aqui? 
P3L Ademas del dinero, en que la ha beneficiado trabajar? 
P32. En su caso, cuanto tiempo piensa trabajar? 


P36. Cuanto gano la semana pasada? 

P37. Cuantas piezas cosio? 

P38. Como se lleva el control de lo que cose? 

P39. Siempre hace lo mismo? 

P39a. Como se decide que va a hacer Ud. (le hacen pruebas o 
otra cosa)? 
P40. Le piden un minimo de piezas? 

P40a. Que pasa si no las hace? 




PI. Porque trabaja en la casa en vez de trabajar en la 


Pla. Para quien trabaja? 

Plb. Cuanto tiempo lleva trabajando en casa? 

Pic. Cual es su horario? (Cuantas horas trabajas diario?) 
P2. Como consiguio este trabajo? 

P3. Ha tenido problemas en cuanto al pago del trabajo? (Cuales 
P4. Se lo traen o Ud. va a buscarlo? 

P4a. Donde recoge el trabajo (para que fabrica trabaja)? 

P4b. Cada cuando recoge y entrega? 

P4c. Como se organiza Ud. para recoger y entragar? 

P4d. Le exigen cuota fija? 

P4e. Como sabe como le van a pagar? 

P4f. Se lo revisan antes de pagarle? 
P4g. Que pasa si no les gusta su trabajo? 
P5. Cada cuando se lo traen? 

P5a. Le traen siempre lo mismo? 

P5b. Le piden cuota fija? 

P5c. Que pasa si no cumple con ella? 

P5d. Cuando sabe como le van a pagar? 
P6. Que cosio la semana pasada? 
P7. A como le pagaron cada pieza? 
P8. Cuantas horas trabajo ayer? 
P9. Cuantas piezas hizo? 
PIO. Le dieron todo el material? 
Pll. Puso Ud. el hilo? 
P12. Cuantos dias a la semana trabaja regularmente? 

P12a. Siempre hace lo mismo? 
PI 3. Es suya la maquina de costura? 
P14. Como lo compro? 
P15. Que tipo de maquina es 
P16. Quien paga su mantenimiento? 
P17. Le ayudan alguien de la familia con la costura (quien?)? 

PI 7a. A veces o de manera regular? 

P17b. Cuanto dinero ganaba Ud. cuando comenzo a trabajar en 

PI 7c. Cuanto dinero gana ahora? 
PIS. Ademas de su sueldo, que otras prestaciones tiene? 
PI 9. Porque trabaja? 

PI 9a. Porque empezo a trabajar? 
P20. Que hace Ud. con el dinero que gana? 

P20a. Se mantiene la familia con su salario? 


P20b. Ademas de los ingresos por sus trabajos que otra 

entrada economica se genera en el hogar y quien le aporta? (por 

ejemplo: rentas, pensiones por accidentes, ayuda de familiares, f 

vende ropa, comida, pension del padre para los hijos, etc.) | 

P20bl Le pide permiso a alguien para gastarlo? j 

P20c. Que gastos de la casa cubre el marido? | 

P20d. Que gastos de la casa cubre Ud? j 

P20e. Le queda algo de ahorrar o para gastos personales? • 

P22. Dejaria de trabajar si pudiera? 

P23. Conoce otras senoras que costen? 

PI. De quien es esta casa? 
P2. Como la consiguieron? 
P3 Como se organizan los gastos de la casa? 
P4 Quien los adn\inistra? 
P5 Quien toma las decisiones importantes en la casa? 

1. Ella 5. Su esposo 

6. Otra persona (especificar) 

8. No Sabe 9. NA 
P6 Quien decide si los hijos van a la escuela? , 

1. Ella 5. Su esposo | 

6. Otra persona 

8. No Sabe 9. NA 
P7 Quien decide que van a comprar con la canasta familiar? 

L Ella 5. Su esposo ] 

6. Otra persona | 

8. No Sabe 9. NA ^ 


P8 Quien decide si los hijos trabajan? 

1. Ella 5. Su esposo 

6. Otra persona 
P9 Cree que porque usted trabaja tiene mas autoridad en la casa? 


PIO Que tipo de trabajo hace su esposo actualmente? 

PlOa. En que trabajaba antes? 
PI Ob. Se ha encontrado su esposo desempleado alguna vez? 

l.Si, cuantas veces 2. No 8. No Sabe 9. NA 

Pll. Podria su familia mantener el mismo nivel de vida que tiene 

ahora si usted no trabajara? 

P12. Que tal satisfecha esta Ud. con su vida? Por que? (Vease 

la hoja separada) 

P13. Si pudiera cambiar algun aspecto de su trabajo, cual 

P14. Que tal satisfecha esta Ud. ahora con su trabajo? 

P15. Que es lo que mas le gusta a Usted de su trabajo 

PI 5a. Que es lo que menos le gusta? 
PI 6. Le gustaria que su hija (si la tuviera) hiciera este 

PI 7. Su sueldo rinde actual que antes? (porque lo dice?) 
PI 8. Que otras cambios se ha notado en la situacion actual 

PI 9. Si perdiera este trabajo, que haria Usted? 
P20. Hay otra cosa que le gustaria contarme? 



Questionnairre for personnel managers (In Spanish) \ 

Cuestionario para los gerentes encargados de personal 

Estoy realizando un estudio para el titulo del doctorado describiendo las ; 

condiciones de produccion industrial actual en la industria de confecciones y } 

a futura expansion de la industria de confeccion en Colombia. ' 

PI. Nombre de la Empresa \ 

P2. Ano de fundacion: ! 

P3. Casa Matriz y origen (Ownership - another company). [ 

P4. Que tipo de ropa produce la fabrica? ■ 

P5. Numero de empleados/obreros | 

Total I 

Hombres: ; 

Mujeres: i 

P5a. Distribucion ocupacional: ; 

Administrativa: No. Hombres: 

No. Mujeres:_ 

Operarios: No. Hombres 

No. Mujeres 

Supervisoras: No. Hombres i 

No. Mujeres \ 

Secretarias: No. Hombres i 

No. Mujeres_ 

P6. Tiene contratas con otras fabricas para hacerles 
trabajo? Cuales? y que hace? 

P6A. Hace cuanto hacia trabajo para otras fabricas? 
Por Que? 

P7. Manda trabajo para otras fabricas? Que porcentage? A quien se lo manda? 
Que parte del processo de produccion manda? 

P7A. Porque manda trabajo para otras fabricas? 

P7B. Hace cuanto manda trabajo para otras fabricas? 

P7C. Manda trabajo a trabajadoros en sus casas? Que 

porcentage? Porque? 
Ventas: Especifique porcentajes o numeros absolutes. 
P8. Exportan productos de confeccion a otros paises? 




P8a. A donde exportan (y cuanto se exportan)? 
(1987-1988 or 1986-1987) 
Anos anteriores 1982 


P8b. Cuanto vende en el mercado domestico? 



P9. Piensa usted que tiene buenos oportunidades en el 
mercado domestico para sus productos? Porque? 

P9a. Piensa que tiene buenos oportunidades en el 
mercado internacional? Porque? 

PIO. Cual es el tipo de relacion laboral con los empleados 

PIO A. Cual es el tipo de relacion laboral con los 

Pll. Prefieran costureras recomendado de canales formales 
(como SENA) o informales? (vecina, hermana, etc.)? Porque? 
PI la. Cuantas mujeres toman cursos formales? 
P12. Tiene servicio de guarderia o un subcidio respectivo? 

1. Si 5. NO 8. NA 
PI 3. Ademas del sueldo que otras prestaciones legales 
reciben los trabajadores (como seguro social, etc.)? 

P13a. Ademas del sueldo que otras prestaciones estra- 
legales reciben los trabajadores (como bienestar familiar, 
cajas de compensation)? 

P14.Ha cambiado mucho la estructura de production de la 
fabrica desde 1982 ? 

P14a. Como les ha afectado las devaluaciones de las 

monedas en los paises vecinos? 
P15. Hay sindicato en la fabrica? 

P15a. Cuales son los sindicatos (o el sindicato) de la 

PI 5b. Si no hay sindicato, firman un pacto o un 
convenio collectivo con trabajadores? 


P16. Como se organizan los descansos en la fabrica? 

PI 7. Como se organiza el trabajo en la fabrica? Por 

ejemplo hay cuotas minimas, etc. 

P18. Existe algun tipo de incentivo o prima? 

P19a. Que pasa si no cumplen programas establicidas? 
P20. Hacen pruebas para contrarar los empleados? En que 
consisten las pruebas? 
P21. Con que frequencia (y en que casos) trabajan horas 

191 \ 


extras? i 

P22. Me podria dar una lista de todas las empleadas para [ 

entrevistas informales en sus casas? 

P23. Hay otra cosa que le gustaria contarme? 

P24. Me permite nnirar los archives de personal para sacar 

una muestra representativa de los trabajadoras? 

P25. Me permite hablar con trabajadoras sociales de las 


Spouse Employment 

Table C.l, Spouse Employment by Workplace, shows that the 
occupation of spouses varies significantly within each category. However, 
there is no major difference which can be noted between the two categories. 
This data do not support the hypothesis that spouses in home-based workers 
households have more stable employment. However, only data gathered in 
homes where spouses were present demonstrate the occupation of a male 
wage earner. In other households where the head was the father, or brother, 
the occupation of the major income earners was not noted unless the worker 
was the daughter. This data, therefore, cannot be used to support or refute the 
hypothesis that the employment of household heads in home-based 
households is more stable than that of factory worker households. 



Table C.l 

Spouse Employment by Workplace 




Construction Worker 

Cafeteria Worker 

Chauffeur, Bus Driver 


Metal Factory Worker 






Furniture Worker 






Garment Store 


Shoe Repair 


Spouse Absent /no info 










Further, Table C.2 demonstrates that type of spouse employment had little 
influence on authority. 

194 *: 

Table C.2 
Type of Spouse Employment by Authority in the Household 

Response to Question: "Do you feel you have more 
authority in the household because you work?" 

Spouse Employment 

No Yes 

Artisan 1 3 

Furniture Worker 2 1 

Mechanic 3 2 

Merchant 3 1 


Fisherman 1 

Agriculturalist 1 

Garment Store 1 1 

Journalist 1 1 

Shoe Repair 1 

Spouse Absent /no info 12 38 

Total 35 7b 

Appendix D 
Household Ethnographies 

Factory Worker's Household 

Angela 29 has three children Sergio 10, Ruben 9, and Marcia 5. She 
came to Pereira from a nearby rural community with her family and husband 
when she was 18. They came to Pereira to look for work. Her father died four 
years ago, at which time Angela began to work in a garment factory. 
Although she had never worked as a seamstress, she quickly learned to sew 
in the large multinational factory. She worked in the factory for 7 months, 
but the schedule was difficult (from 7 in the evening to 6 in the morning 
Monday through Thursday, Fridays from 7 till 5 and Saturday from 12 until 
production was finished, sometimes going on until 10:00 at night). She was 
fired when she had her third child. 

However, one year after the birth of her child, they called her again. 
She worked from 7 at night till 6 in the morning again. When she returned 
home from the factory she prepared breakfast for her husband and got her 
children off to school. The youngest daughter stayed with a neighbor while 
Angela slept. During the evening while she was at work, her husband 
(unemployed) watched the children. (Angela's husband had worked in a 
small micro-enterprise which made shoes, but the shop went bankrupt and 
he lost his job in the fall of 1988.) Usually Angela went to bed at 8 or 9 in the 
morning and slept till 2 or 3 in the afternoon. 

When her children arrived home from school she'd prepare them 
some dinner and prepare her "lunch" for work then leave to catch the bus for 
the 20 minute ride to the factory. However, because Angela did not meet her 
production quotas, she was transferred to one of the factories which 
subcontracted to the large multinational factory and made women's blouses. 
This factory was smaller. Whereas the other large multinational factory 
employed over 900 operators, this factory employed only 300 workers, and 
had approximately 4 workshops. However Angela stated that it was very hot 
in the factory, especially during the day. Although she does not enjoy her 
work, Angela's contribution to the household budget is essential for the 
economic survival of her family. 
(Interview #11) 



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Kathleen Gladden was born in Grove City, Pennsylvania, in 1960. She 
received a B.A. in psychology with a Spanish minor from Allegheny College 
in Meadville, Pennsylvania, 1982 and a masters degree in Latin American 
studies from Tulane University in New Orleans in 1984. Upon graduation 
from the University of Florida she will continue her research interests in the 
impact of development on women and children in Latin America. 


I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it conforms 
to acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in 
scope and quality, as a thesis for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. 

Dr. Helen Safa, Chi 
Professor of Anthropology 

I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it conforms 
to acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in 
scope and quality, as a thesis for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. 


Dr. Marianne Schmink 
Associate Professor of 

I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it conforms 
to acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in 
scope and quality, as a thesis for the degree of Doctor of Philosopl 

)r. PamDougr 
Professor of AntH'opology 

I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it conforms 
to acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in 


Dr. Anthon^'^liver-Smith 
Associate^ofessor of 

I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it conforms 
to acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully ac^quate, in 
scope and quality, as a thesis for the degree (pf^octor of Ehilc^phy. 

}T. Davi(^ ^ushnell 
Professor of History i 

This thesis was submitted to the Graduate Faculty of the Department of 
Anthropology in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and to the Graduate 
School and was accepted as partial fulfillment of the requirements for the 
degree of Doctor of Philosophy . 

May, 1991 Dean, Graduate School 

/h' J